Work Scheduling and Compressed Work Week

One aspect of job design which has received great attention in the recent past is the scheduling of work hours. The increase in the workforce of dual career couples with children and the increased realization by employees that production needs are better served by varied schedules have been largely responsible for the shift in work week scheduling.

The requirements of balancing work shifts with family and other personal demands, for example can make work a difficult endeavor for many people. A manager should recognize at least five alternatives to the traditional 8 hour per day / 5 days per week work schedule: the compressed work week, flexible working hours, job sharing and part time work. Each of these approaches shares a common concern for making the work day and its time requirements more compatible with individual needs and non work activities.

Compressed work level:

A compressed work week is any scheduling of work that allows a full time job to be completed in fewer than the standard five days. The most common form of compressed work week is the “4-40” that is, 40 hours of work accomplished in four 10 hour days. A ‘4-40’ schedule for a work unit of two employees is shown in Table below. As the exhibit shows, one result of the 4-40 is that employees have three consecutive days off from each week.

This added time off is the source of most benefits associated with compressed work week plans. The individual often benefits from increased leisure time, more 3 day weekends, free weekdays to pursue personal business, and lower commuting costs. The organization can benefit too, in terms of reduced energy consumption during 3 day shutdown, lower employee absenteeism improved recruiting of new employees and having extra time available for building and equipment maintenance.

The disadvantages may include increased fatigue from the extended workday and family adjustment problem for the individual and increased work scheduling problems and possible customer complaints due to breaks in work coverage for the organization. Possible constraints on utilization of compressed work week schedules includes occasional union opposition and laws that require some organizations to pay overtime for work that exceeds 8 hours of individual labor in any one day.

Flexible working hours (Flexitime):
Flexitime may be defined as any work schedule that gives employees daily choice in the timing between work and non work activities. A sample flexible working hour schedule is depicted. Employees are required to work four hours of core time.

They are often free to choose their remaining four hours of work from among flexible time blocks.

Flexible working hours or flextime increases individual’s autonomy in work scheduling. Early risers may choose to come in early and leave at 4 pm; late sleepers may choose to start at 10 am leave at 6 pm. In between these two extremes are opportunities to attend to such personal affairs as dental appointments, home emergencies, visiting the bank and so on. There are several types of flextime schedules which vary according to the amount of scheduling flexibility that is allowed. These include:

1) Flexitour: Workers choose starting and stopping times, which must be adhered to for a set period of time, from among the lists provided to the organization.
2) Gliding time: Workers may vary their starting and finishing times daily but must work a set number of hours per day.
3) Variable working hours: Workers are free to choose the hours irrespective of core time, provided the contract a set number of hours with their supervisors.
4) Maxiflex: Workers have the freedom to vary their hours daily irrespective of core times. Maxiflex is similar to compressed work week.
5) Flexiplace: Workers may work part of the time outside the workplace such as home.
Source: HRM

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