Why do you work five days per week for 40 hours?
Think back in your company’s history. Who made the decision to work that schedule? What purpose does it serve toward the goal of the organization?
The answer isn’t going to be fun to face. Most likely, the team didn’t intentionally choose the standard five-day work week. It was chosen by default – that’s just how it’s always gone. But it doesn’t mean it is the best fitting schedule for you or your company’s success.
I was lucky enough to have the question answered for me when I got hired at a company that did a 36-hour work week (we didn’t work Friday afternoons). I realized quickly that I could easily get as much done. Friday afternoons weren’t that productive anyhow. Since 2020, I’ve worked a four-day, 32-hour work week and we’ve achieved the same productivity and profitability with 20% fewer hours than the typical schedule.
Since you’re reading this article, I can assume you’ve made the giant step of questioning your standard work week. And it looks like you may want to learn more about the 4-10 work schedule. If you’d like to read about other creative ideas, we have 29 alternative or compressed schedules to read about here.
In this article, we break down everything you’ll need to know about the 4-10 schedule. Use the links below to jump to a section that interests you the most.
- What is the 4-10 work schedule?
- Schedule templates
- Companies using the schedule
- Common questions
- > Where to find flex-schedule jobs
What is the 4-10 work schedule?
The 4-10 schedule consists of four working days each with 10-hour shifts. The most common choice is to make Friday a non-working day.
Here’s an example:
- Monday: 8 AM – 6 PM
- Tuesday: 8 AM – 6 PM
- Wednesday: 8 AM – 6 PM
- Thursday: 8 AM – 6 PM
- Friday: Off
- Saturday: Off
- Sunday: Off
You may have heard it called a compressed schedule, as well, since the schedule packs 40 hours of work into four days rather than five. The 4-10 schedule exchanges longer hours for fewer days.
4-10 Work Schedule Templates
There are a few different ways to manage the 4-10 schedule. Here are the typical schedules that are used from most common to least.
4-10 Compressed Work Schedule
This is the standard template that I defined above. Everyone works the same 10 hours for four days per week.
Flexible 4-10 Schedule
A flexible 4-10 schedule could mean a few different things depending on the company:
- Flexible days: Individual employees would work the 4-10 schedule but choose their day off (some would take Mondays, some Fridays, etc.)
- Flexible shifts: Every employee would work the 4-10 schedule but have flexibility to adjust their start and end times to whatever works best for them.
Hospitals, manufacturers, and any organization with dedicated support (local governments, service providers, etc.) need to have at least some employees present during normal business hours. In that case, a company could choose to work the 4-10 schedule in shifts to ensure coverage on each weekday.
Here’s an example:
- Group 1: Monday – Thursday are work days, Friday is off
- Group: 2: Monday is off, Tuesday – Friday are work days
Fridays and Mondays are 50% staff, and Tuesdays – Thursdays are 100% staff.
This is the regular 4-10 schedule but used seasonally (usually in the summer). This could be offered as a benefit – “Fridays off in the summer.”
If you’re looking for other ideas, these alternative work schedules are similar, although not necessarily the same amount of hours. Here are a few of the most closely related ones:
- Four-day work week (or 32-hour work week): Four, eight hour days per week
- 9-80: Over a two-week period, people work the standard 80 hours but do it over nine working days rather than 10. This usually means every other Friday is off.
- 9/72: Eight-hour workdays with every other Friday off.
- Half-day Friday: Eight-hour workdays on Monday – Thursday, then four hours on Friday.
- 3-day work week
Read about 29 alternative or compressed schedules.
Benefits of 4-10 Work Schedule
A compressed schedule can be beneficial to the individual (employee or entrepreneur) and the company (the employer). We’ve organized these potential benefits into those categories.
For Individuals & Freelancers
- A shift in work-life balance: There aren’t additional hours available with this schedule, but there is an extra day cleared out. If you prefer to work longer hours, you’ll gain 52 extra days off per year.
- Personal time: I don’t work on Fridays. When other people are working or in school and you are off, you free up a new type of day for personal time: learning, reading, starting a side business, exercise, errands, etc.
- Potential lower cost for childcare: Having every other Friday off can remove the need for a nanny or day care that day. However, you’ll have to add extra hours during your workdays.
- Recovery time: Having a three-day weekend every other week helps get downtime away from work, which in turn, makes you more refreshed for work.
- Less commuting: For office-based companies, you’ll commute four days instead of five (saving 20% of your total commute time).
For Companies & Managers
- Attractive benefit for hiring: If a job candidate prefers longer hours in exchange for 52 additional days off per year, you’ve positioned your company well to hire that person versus a standard work week competitor.
- Better employee retention: Some employees may prefer a standard work week. But if you understand your team’s preferences and if most would prefer the 4-10 schedule, you’ve added a benefit that will help retain employees. Frankly, it’s hard to switch back to working five days per if you’ve gotten used to four.
- Same amount of hours: Companies can offer this benefit without decreasing work hours at all (if that’s necessary for the organization).
See Also: 22 Four-Day Work Week Benefits
Downsides of 4-10 work schedule
The four-day, 32 hour work week is, essentially, all benefit for the individual. You’ve removed standard work hours, added time off, and kept the pay the same as before. Who work argue against that?
But the 4-10 schedule is a tradeoff. For some, it may actually be worse to work longer hours for fewer days.
For Individuals & Freelancers
- Longer work days: Ten hour days are 25% longer than what your team is used to. Employees may feel less productive (and less fulfilled) and they may have schedule conflicts arise.
- Less personal time on working days: On Mondays through Thursdays, you lose two extra hours of personal time. This could hurt your workout routine, family time, social engagements, and more. During the winter, you may be working through the entire light of the day. These are real potential downsides to longer working days.
- Childcare conflicts: What needs to happen with your childcare if you used to get home at 5:30 and now it’s 7:30?
For Companies & Managers
- Less coverage (for customer support): For organizations that need people available during business hours, you lose a day of support every week.
- Less productive hours: The two extra hours on workdays may be less productive than the hours you’ve traded out from Friday. When are you more productive, from 8-10 AM on Friday or 4-6 PM on Monday?
- Not for everyone: Some people may not like 10-hours days, which could remove some people from your talent pool (hiring) and current team (retention).
- Focus on hours instead of output: Although you’ve switched to an alternative schedule, you still haven’t questioned how time is tied to value or output. This schedule is still about counting hours instead of value provided. Although it may be an improvement, it’s not a cultural shift in how things are measured at the company.
Companies Using The 4-10 Work Schedule
We scoured the internet for companies that use the 4-10 work week so you could learn from the real policies in use. In the table below, you’ll see example organizations that use this schedule.
City of Redding, CA
January 8, 2018
Unknown start date
City Of Morgantown, WV (City)
For the next year a large majority of workers employed by the City of Morgantown will be working four days a week.
'Employees will work their 40 hours in four days or four 10-hour days,' she said."
The changes include a reduction of weekly hours from 40 to 37.5 – working nine instead of eight hours a day over four days, plus a six-hour day one Saturday per month."
January 25, 2021
Iloilo, Philippines (City)
"We need to adjust because of rising costs of fuel. This will mean savings on electricity and less traffic. As an added value, this will also allow our officials and employees to have quality time with their families for three days — Friday, Saturday and Sunday," said Mayor Jerry Treñas. City Hall targets to open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Thursday, to cover the required 40-hour work week.
If you’re interested to learn more about the changing nature of work schedules, take a look at this list of four-day work week companies.
I hope the sections above answered most of your questions. In my research, I found a few outstanding questions that needed to be answered. Please comment on this post below if you have questions I missed.
How is overtime handled on a 4-10 work schedule?
A company sets a standard work week for payroll. This is usually stated as Sunday through Saturday. Within that period, there are 40 work hours like a normal schedule. Anything on top of the 40 hours would be considered overtime. Please consult your HR provider or attorney for guidance in your state or country, though. I’ve provided only general guidance.
How does a 4-10 schedule compare to a 5-8 (standard) work week?
Both schedules work 40 hours per week. A 4-10 compresses those hours into four workdays whereas a 5-8 is spread over five workdays. A 4-10 has longer hours with fewer days. Since it’s a personal preference as to which works better, you could offer the 4-10 schedule as optional at your company. That way, each individual has selected the best-fitting schedule.
What’s the difference between a 4-10 and 9-80?
Both schedules work 80 hours over two weeks (a standard template). The 4-10 schedule typically has every Friday off with 10-hour work days. In the 9-80 schedule, every other Friday is off.
How does the 4-10 schedule work for California companies?
Here’s an excerpt from Constangy, a law firm, describing this in much better legalize than me:
“California Labor Code Section 510(a)(1) provides that ‘any work in excess of 8 hours in one day shall be compensated at the overtime rate of time and a half. This does not apply, however, to an employee working pursuant to a properly adopted AWS.’”
Where To Find Flexible Jobs
The first place I’d look is Flexjobs, the world’s biggest job board for remote and flexible work. You’ll find dedicated filters to “flexible” and “alternative” schedules.
- Indeed: This is the biggest job board in the world. Although they aren’t focused on alternative jobs, they’ll have most or all of the alternative jobs out there.
- 4dayweek.io: This job board focuses on remote, 32-hour jobs in software if you’re interested in that schedule.
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