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Commute Alternatives

Compressed Work Schedules

A compressed work schedule is one where employees work their total number of full time hours in fewer days by working more hours a day. The day off can be the same for all employees or it may vary or rotate. Most employers assign days off in order to ensure adequate daily coverage.

The most common compressed work schedules are:

4/40 A 40-hour week consisting of four 10-hour days and one day off a week
9/80 80 hours worked over two weeks, consisting of eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day and one day off
3/36 A 36-hour week consisting of three 12-hour days and two days off a week

Compressed work schedules are an excellent trip reduction strategy for an employer with employees who travel long distances each way to work.

How can compressed work schedules benefit employers and employees?

  • Reduce absenteeism, tardiness and turnover
  • Provide employers with more coverage for customer services over various time periods during the workday
  • Give employees more flexibility for family responsibilities
  • Allow for more set-up time at the start of a shift
  • Lower operating costs if a facility can be closed one day a week

Where can compressed work schedules be used?
Compressed work schedules works best where employees require little contact with other employees, where set-up/tear-down time or shift changeovers are necessary, e.g., hospitals or manufacturing, or where work functions are not disrupted by staff reduction.

How do employers set up a compressed work schedule program?
Like most other successful programs, a good compressed work schedule program depends on sound planning. The employer’s local Transportation Management Association (TMA) may be able to help:

  • Identify jobs compatible with a compressed work schedule
  • Resolve work rule, overtime, productivity and liability issues with managers, unions and legal staff*
  • Determine what schedule to use
  • Establish policies regarding eligibility, selection of days off, etc.
  • Review procedures with employees to ensure understanding of rules
  • Establish a system for monitoring work performance

If you are hesitant to try a compressed work schedule for you entire workforce, you may institute a pilot program with a small group of employees. If this pilot results in employee and management satisfaction, the program can be expanded to other employees.

*Some, not all, TMAs can help with these issues.

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  Last Updated:  January 28, 2005