29 Alternative & Compressed Work Week Schedules

On September 25, 1926, Henry Ford announced his company would start working a five-day, forty-hour work week. The five-day work week was born and it was a breakthrough, clearly! It’s been friggin’ 95 years to the day and we’re still all doing it.

But as we approach a century since the preeminent work schedule was invented, people are finally starting to question it. After all, Ford employees worked on an assembly line. Today, 25% of Americans work from home and 36% make a living through freelance work.

When, where, and how much we work is overdue for some evaluation. Many companies have implemented alternative work schedules with fewer hours or schedules with the same amount of hours compressed into fewer days. Here are a couple of quick notes:

  • This article specifically looks at company policies at the top followed by freelancer and entrepreneur ideas at the bottom (the “write-in candidates”)
  • We don’t look at shift-work schedules (like the 2-2-3 schedule) for hospitals or police departments, for example (this post is jobs that can be done remotely)
  • For each, we’ll show the work week on a calendar and give an example of a company who is using that type of schedule

Use the table of contents below to jump to one that interests you.

 

What type of alternative work schedule would you like to learn more about?

 

4-day work week (32-hour schedule)

What is the 4-day work week schedule?

A company considers only four days of the week as work days. In most cases, four-day companies don’t work Friday to give a three-day weekend. A four-day week technically could come with any amount of hours, but for this post we’re saying it is a 32 hours per week. You’ll find other four-day formats below with different hour amounts.

What real companies do the 4-day work week?

See: Every Company Doing A 4-Day Work Week

 

3-day work week

What is the 3-day work week schedule?

People only work three days out of seven regardless of the amount of hours they put in during those days.

Does anyone do the three-day work week?

Maaemo does a 3-day, 45-hour work week.

Richard Branson has talked about it, but it doesn’t sound like Virgin actually does it. While I’m sure many freelancers and business owners work this schedule, it’s hard to find a company with a set three-day schedule.

 

4-10 work schedule (compressed work week)

What is the 4-10, compressed schedule?

An employee works for four, 10-hour days then is off for three days each week. This keeps the typical 40-hour work week but compresses it into one less day. There are positives and negatives to a compressed week.

What companies do a 4-10 schedule?

Elephant Ventures (Permanent)

City of Morgantown, West Virginia (Trial)

 

9-80 work schedule (5-4/9 schedule)

What is the 9-80 (also known as the 5-4/9) schedule?

During a two-week period, the employee works 80 hours across nine days instead of ten. The plan is to spread eight hours of work, typically done on a Friday, across the other nine days in the period to earn an extra day off every other week. The most common way to do this is four nine-hour days followed by an eight-hour Friday. The next week is four nine-hour days followed by a Friday off.

What are some organizations that offer the 9-80 work schedule?

Twitter

BAE Systems

The City of Coronado, CA (city employees)

 

9-72 work schedule (every other Friday off)

What is the 9-72 schedule?

This is where employees have a normal five-day, 40-hour week followed by a four-day, 32-hour week. In other words, every other Friday is off with normal work days outside of that. If you have positions that are required to be on during normal work hours (like client work or support), you could have half of your team on each Friday for coverage.

What’s an example company that takes off every other Friday?

Fifth Tribe

 

Half-day Friday policy (36-hour work week schedule)

What is the 36-hour work week?

Full-time employees work 36 hours per week rather than 40. Typically, the work day ends at lunch time on Friday to meet the allotted time. The opportunity here is to give people a compressed amount of time to work on Friday, then enjoy the afternoon off. Typically, Friday afternoons are the least productive time.

What’s an example company that does the 36-hour work schedule?

Iceland (the country, on a trial basis)

Buffer did half-day Fridays before switching to 4-day, 32 hours

 

Summer Friday policy

What is a summer Friday schedule?

During the summer months only, a company will offer some form of Fridays off. It’s a seasonal change to the work week schedule. This could be offered in the form of a seasonal 4-10, 9-80, 9-72, or by simply cutting Fridays from the schedule during the summer months.

Which companies offer Summer Fridays?

OfferUp

OwlLabs

 

4-hour work week

I hate to break it to you, but that’s a book by Tim Ferriss. A good book at that. We’re likely years away from a four-hour work week being offered as a company policy (if ever).

This book is for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and business owners (current and striving) about how to operate your business so that it doesn’t require your time. I’d recommend it!

 

Write-in candidates: 20 alternative schedule ideas from entrepreneurs

I asked a list of entrepreneurs to share the unique schedules they work during the week. I received 103 responses, but only used the 22 best and notable schedules below. I wanted to add this section specifically for entrepreneurs from entrepreneurs. Whereas all of the ideas above are used as company policies for employees, these real schedules below are used by business owners who can structure their days however they choose.

‘You-shaped schedule’

15 hours per week over Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday

 

 

For years, I worked as much as I could trying to squeeze as much out of myself as I possibly could. However, my health started to go down hill, not to mention my mental health! After becoming a mother, I was determent to break this harmful pattern and show my kids I could be successful without burning myself out, or ruining my relationships in the process. That is why I prefer the “you-shaped” or “me-shaped” work schedule. It fits my family as well as my personal needs. Because my schedule is designed to prioritise my (mental) health, I feel great 99 procent of the time. This means that when I work, I can focus, be productive and get things done quickly. I rarely waste anytime staring at my screen because I don’t know what to do, or where to start. The “you-shaped” schedule allows me to show up fully and deliver create results for my clients.

– Susanne Grant of Grant Method Coaching

 

—–

 

Where else does the 15-hour work week come from?

In 1930, Economist John Maynard Keynes predicted his grandchildren would work 15-hour weeks due to advances in technology and productivity.

‘The anti-burnout work week’

20 hours per week over Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

 

 

When I put up the business, I promised myself to work at a comfortable pace to avoid burnout at all costs. After some trial and error, this is the schedule that worked best for me.

– Jack Miller of How I Get Rid Of

 

Where else does the 20-hour work week come from?

WorkReduce has trialed a 20-hour work week as a company policy. A small group of people have started the 20-Hour Work Week Movement encouraging people to start online businesses with 20 hours of work per week.

’10-2′

20 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

 

“As my work is not dependent on being on office hours, working 10-2 during the week suited me well as it allowed me to get up and go to the gym at a reasonable time (8am is quiet time in the gym as most people going early then go to their office job). Then I can come home, have a relaxed breakfast and start work either at home or in a local cafe. I just need my laptop and wifi. In the afternoons once I’ve finished my work I can socialise, relax in a cafe, or work on other projects unrelated to my main work. I still think it’s very important to get up at a reasonable time and keep a regular routine in order to sleep well and stay productive, otherwise it would end up in me sleeping all morning and feeling extremely lazy. This would also effect my bedtime too as I wouldn’t be tired until the early hours of the morning. This week I’ll be starting a Mandarin class which is 4 days per week, 9-11am, so my working schedule will likely shift to 12-4. Even this change won’t have an impact on my afternoon activities so in theory I think the 4 hour routine can be shifted earlier or later to suit the individual. ”

– Jordan Martin-Smith of FULLTIME.digital

‘Flexible 4-day work week’

25 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

 

After many years in the corporate world working well over 40h a week, I realized that I was not productive 100% of the time. Now, I run my own business which allows me to work on my own schedule while being productive 100% of the time. This means that my schedule is super flexible and turns out Mondays through Thursdays are my most productive days. I don’t necessarily stick to these 4 specific days or to specific times during the day, which is why flexibility is the name of the game. This also allows me to have free time I can spend on hobbies and with my loved ones. My team also works on a similar flexible 4-day schedule.

– Rym Benchaar of My Coach Rym

 

Where else does the 25-hour work week come from?

Tower Paddle Boards and Rheingans Digital Enabler, a German digital consulting agency, both do a five-hour work day (Monday through Friday from 8 AM – 1 PM).

‘Flexible 4-day work week’

30 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

 

The purpose of my schedule is to be as flexible as possible to help with my kids. If my toddler needs to take a nap bit is struggling to fall asleep I can leave and take him on a bike ride. If my baby is having a hard day, I can take over for a few hours while mom takes a nap etc

– Corey Noyes of Balanced Capital

’25-by-4′

25 hours per week over Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

 

As a mom and full time business owner, I needed flexibility with a schedule and a day of rest to run errands for home and personal life. Most people schedule their time off on Fridays; however, Fridays are a busy day our location so an early week day off works best for me. My schedule has allowed me to start the week off in the office, work from home midweek, and work a few hours on Fridays to connect with my staff. My schedule is flexible and gives me time during the week to connect with consulting clients, focus on operations, marketing and most importantly, family.

– Tamika Washington of ConverSpace

‘The healthy five’

25 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

 

I used to work 60 hours a week when I owned an office furniture company, I was successful but miserable. I sold my business and started an online business and I promised my family that I would never sacrifice my home life to make money. This is why I started working 5 hours a day 5 days a week.

– Jamie Hickey of Coffee Semantics

‘Flexible 5s’

25 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

 

“I usually work around 4-5 hours per day, but not at a specific time frame. For example, I went through my email in the morning for an hour or two. Then I will be off from work until I needed to brainstorm a project with the team on the afternoon. And sometime response to email again at the evening. This is one of the reason I started my own business, because I can enjoy the freedom and flexibility when doing work.”

– Yeremia Poco of Eggplain

‘5-5s’

25 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

 

“I based my schedule on a few different things. I used the chronotype test to pinpoint my natural circadian rhythm. I then analyzed my energy levels throughout the day to match the energy requirement of my tasks. I found I do best with 2 blocks of about 2.5h separated by a long lunch break. I identified what my priorities were and inputted the most important first (especially if they happen at set times) and built the rest of my schedule around them. It’s been game changing in my productivity and overall happiness. I get more done, I feel better about my work, I generally have more energy and I still have plenty of time for things outside of work.”

– Anne-Sophie Pelletier of Pelletier Consulting

 

“We work 5 hours maximum every weekdays, from Monday to Friday, thus, more or less, we work 25 hours every week. Before, we work for at least 8 hours a day, however, because of the pandemic limitations, our goal included prioritizing and fortifying safety, physical, and mental health, so we limited our contact and hours of working. Actually, it’s a lot more convenient for all of us, even for me, since I have a other responsibilities as well. However, a lot of working hour adjustments per employee and cost-cutting measures were done to achieve this goal, plus we also have modified our pricing and interaction time with our customers.”

– Andrea Chapman of Nature and Bloom

‘Intuitive time blocks’

30 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

 

After being a high-achiever corporate climber and reaching a point of burn out, I recognized that my mental health and physical health was suffering in exchange for a title and a paycheck. This led to me create my own rules for my business one that supports my well-being so that I can give to my business and clients purposefully and with excitement to do every day. The impact of this 4-day intentional scheduling has not only benefited my mental and physical well-being but it has challenged me to be hyper productive to achieve the results I want in a shorter period of time.

– Vanessa Santos of Start Up With Vanessa

‘The introvert schedule’

30 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

 

“I am an introvert, so I am constantly optimizing my schedule to align with my energy levels as well as my business needs. Currently, I limit meeting with clients to Tuesday through Thursday. This allows me to rest and recharge as well work on projects Monday and Friday, if needed, or take 3- to 4-day weekends. Additionally, I am in a doctoral program, so I can fit in schoolwork on Mondays and Fridays as well as my dedicated homework day, Sunday. I began my business as a side hustle on Fiverr charging five dollars for resume reviews and LinkedIn profile summaries. I now run a multi-six-figure coaching business from my home in Santa Barbara, CA (previously San Francisco, CA). I am a trusted confidant to some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley and high tech. This schedule allows me optimal time to recharge as well as meet with my clients.”

– Kyle Elliott of CaffeinatedKyle.com

’11-6′

30 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

 

I prefer to wake up without an alarm and enjoy a mindful breakfast, so 11am is a great start time for me. Stopping at 6pm gives me plenty of time to read, relax, and spend time with family.

– Matthew Ramirez of Rephrase Media

‘6-day work week’

30 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

 

I opted to work five hours per day from Monday to Saturday to maximize my availability while still having time for my other priorities. As a business owner, I’m always working, and this schedule lets me maintain a balance that keeps me productive and motivated.

– Jake Smith of Absolute Reg

‘Split 3-day work week’

30 hours per week over Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

 

“I work 8am – 4 pm plus 7:30 – 9:30 pm 3 days a week. By working a split shift I can I work with international clients and be present with my young children more. I meet with clients in the Americas in the morning, admin during the afternoon and be present for family time in the evening and after my kids are in bed I meet with my European clients. This schedule allows me to be present with my family, be productive and successful in my work and enjoy more travel due to always having a 4 day weekend. ”

– Melanie Bruce of The Leveraged PhD

‘Flex work week’

30 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

 

My work schedule gave me just the right balance between my personal and professional life. I can still be hands-on with my company and also enjoy my time with my family. It’s a great choice for people like me who have been in the industry for decades.

– Nunzio Ross of Majesty Coffee

‘2-day intervals’

30 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

 

Being a startup CEO gives me tons of opportunities to schedule my work week. I tested many kinds and finally found out that at least one day off every three days is the best. So, for example, I work on Mondays and Tuesdays, rest on Wednesdays, work on Thursdays and Fridays and rest on Saturdays and Sundays. Of course, it depends on my life- and work-related duties. But working for a maximum of 2 days in a row boosts me a lot! It has a super positive impact on my work effectiveness and personal life quality!

– Rafal Mlodzki of Passport Photo Online

‘Flexible 4-day work week’

32 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

 

The 4-day work week has been proven time and time again to keep employees engaged and motivated with the promise of an extra day off. 4-day Flextime Work seeks to improve upon this by giving employees even greater autonomy over their day-to-day schedule. Rather than a standard 9-5, you’re free to choose the exact eight hours that you work so long as you get the work done. This ensures that work fits around your life rather than the other way around.

– Jerry Han of PrizeRebel

‘A little bit each day’

45 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

 

Balance is the main reason I have decided to work this schedule. I love getting up early and working out, as well as ending my day early to cook dinner and get outside. I feel happier and more productive each day because it doesn’t feel like a grind. I typically work a half day Saturday and quarter day Sunday mainly because I love what I do but also to give myself a more prolonged break from work to reset my mind.

– Andy Kolodgie of The House Guys

 

I work with clients who are buying homes. They are looking for houses during their off hours, so I need to be available to them on weekends or evenings. During the day I’ll push my loans through the process. I work a little each day, but overall I don’t work more hours than a regular job. I like this schedule as it affords me so nice breaks throughout the day.

– Jeffrey Loyd of Mortgage Acuity

‘Siesta style’

55 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

 

I enjoy working a little bit at night most evenings as well, so I shorten my working day and pick up a little bit in the evenings, really establishing myself for a great start in the mornings.

– Andrew Taylor of Net Lawman

‘Compressed work week ‘

56 hours per week over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

 

I operate on a compressed work schedule, where I put in 56 hours in 4 days. This allows me to have a 3-day weekend, giving me plenty of time to pursue my other interests. Hence, I work from Monday to Thursday, 14 hours each, so that I can have Friday to Sunday off. With a three day weekend, I get to rest completely, spend quality time with my family, and pursue my other hobbies comprehensively.

– Patrick Crane of Love Sew

No work schedule (Output > Hours)

All of the schedules above are great, but half-steps in the right direction.

I run a company that did half-day Fridays (32 hours per week) for years. Then we lopped off the four Friday hours to make it a four-day, 32-hour work week. Going from 36 hours to 32 hours was easy–our productivity and profitability continued on the same trajectory, our clients didn’t even notice, and all of our employees were very happy to have three-day weekends each week. It was unequivocally the right move.

But it’s a half-step, because what we all have in front of us is the ability to get work done whenever we want. The hours and schedules go out the window and get replaced by personal accountability and contribution. Our company is moving that way–we have unlimited time off, we encourage people to turn off Slack and email, we push to remove unproductive meetings, and personal things throughout the day take priority over work. If someone doesn’t come online for a full day, that’s totally fine.

We’re all accountable to do our jobs well without extrinsic motivation from a manager or a set schedule. It’s a big leap in how we’ve all worked, but it unlocks real freedom and opportunity for the employees and company.

 

What is your work schedule like?

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