Working Four Ten-Hour Days a Week

Employers discuss the pros and cons of unconventional work hours, including the costs and benefits of overtime. December 24, 2012

I'm considering a four day ten hour day work week. Any pros and cons to share?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor H:
When overtime is needed we go to five days at ten hours. If we do that long enough then the guys feel like an eight hour day is almost vacation time. We always start at 7am so on eight hour days we quit at 3:30 instead of 5:30.

Occasionally we'll go to the ten hour days for a 40 hour week and they'll take either Monday or Friday off. They really like this because of the three day weekend. All this works very well for us. The only negative I've seen is that the guys can be a little beat at the end of the first few days at 10 hours/day.

From contributor U:
I have never believed it to be beneficial to work employees beyond eight hours, another reason why I do not care for paying overtime. I believe an employee's alertness and productivity begin dropping after even six hours in most cases. While long work days can appear to show increases in production, it will look like an increase if compared to eight hour days.

If you measure the employee's production on an hourly rate, in many cases I believe you will be surprised. When we shifted to pay rates based on piece work and square footage production, I began to see patterns where in our shop we would see the best production during the morning hours (8 to 12) and then a steady decline throughout the afternoon. Even when we ran an evening shift (6 to 10), we found this to be least productive of all, even when we were bringing in fresh workers for part time work. While I often work much longer days myself, I usually see the same patterns with my personal production, however I may find myself doing more at certain times, but then I may also have a pressing motivation that explains these boost.

Other considerations can be a factor as well. Four day weeks mean a shift in managing payroll and paperwork, receiving orders, and the possibility of only installing four days a week. The install part means it will be tougher to coordinate with customers, plus we would lose a day where customers cannot come see us. Right now with business like it has been, I don't need to lose 50 days of exposure to potential customers. The upside to four day weeks is probably already obvious to you, but try it for a month and then make a choice.

From contributor W:
Four day work weeks were very well liked by the staff. The biggest problem we had with that though was getting them to work overtime. They hated to sacrifice part of their three day weekend. For that reason I would make sure that there is an understanding about the importance of meeting project schedules and working overtime when it's needed.

From contributor S:
We have been doing this since forever. The guys get used to ten hours, and they like three day weekends. Some guys travel a ways to get to work, and only needing to travel four days helps out. I almost never work overtime. It doesn't pay to pay them time and a half.

From contributor D:
I worked at a shop some time ago that had ten hour days, the workers loved it. The only problems were deliveries on Friday and with the installation crew, homeowners did not like them arriving extra early and leaving later than normal.

From contributor T:
An alternate to consider: nine hours Mon-Thurs, and half day on Friday. One shop I worked at did 8.75 hours Mon-Thurs then 7-12 on Friday. Still get an early start to weekend but 8.75 hours is a lot easier to adjust to than 10, and likely more productive overall.

From contributor A:
We have been doing the four day thing for about ten years and my staff would never want to go back. Our customers for the most part know we don't work Fridays, and the really good ones know they can usually get my wife or me if they need to. We monitor our emails and phone calls and I like being able to come in on a Friday when no one else is here. I get a lot of work done on my own. I also use the Friday to organize materials, sharpen tools, tool maintenance, change bits in the CNC, etc.

Your employees have the Friday to do their banking, doctorsí appointments, and shopping without having to take time off to do so. With a three day weekend you can actually go somewhere to relax. I find they are well rested on Monday mornings even after a weekend of skiing or hiking in the mountains. By the end of the Thursday they are ready to start their weekend.

From contributor M:
My employees have absolutely no limit on working overtime. They work from four to ten hours of overtime per week. The only people I have placed limits to at times are indeed slackers during regular time. I make it a point to emphasize that overtime is paid at time and-a-half, so I expect a good return on my investment. I am satisfied overall. The fact is, I let them work overtime as a means of augmenting their income.

From contributor S:
Do you have that extra labor rate built into your bids?

From contributor M:
I do not make any allowances for overtime in the bids directly. I more than make up the difference on the overhead side. It costs me very little overhead on the overtime, if any (the installers working off-site log the most hours). In any case, my aim is to have the employees make extra money, even if it meant it came out of my take. I do give raises, although not as frequent as I would without the overtime, which as everyone knows are taken for granted and soon forgotten. So if they want to earn more, they have to work more. Something for something.

From contributor C:
Look into insurance and workman's comp rates. Even if you keep hours to a 40 hour week, you may be facing an increase in rates by working ten hour days. This is because statistically there are more reported accidents when a business works four tens versus five eights.

As mentioned most people prefer four tens but also as mentioned you will get less production per hour, that's simply how our body and mind is built. Stupid mistakes start being made and it takes more effort/time to problem solve. If you foresee the possibility of regularly working hours on the fifth day, remember that too will affect insurance and workman's comp rates.