March 21, 2023

Summer Hours Vs. The Four-Day Week

Summer Hours Vs. The Four-Day Week

In 2023, I want to address some things that—as a business owner and investor—am seeing, hearing, or grappling with in today’s workplace.

Let’s start with the concept of the four-day workweek—I hate it! While I know that can be characterized as a dinosaur answer (as I did just turn 60!), I am just not a fan of this approach to getting a better balance between work and life while running a successful (not static) business. Before I am pilloried for not being progressive enough, let me advocate for all-the-time summer hours as a way to achieve a balance of work-and-personal time and running a thriving business.

I define all-the-time summer hours as your typical 4-day workweek of Monday thru Friday (8:30 – 5:00) and Fridays being from 8:30 – 1:00 (skip lunch), in the office. On Fridays after 1:00 … you’re done – leave the office! (I’ll address working from home in a subsequent blog).

Why not the four-day workweek? Here are my reasons:

  • For many businesses, it will be unfair for the office staff to work 4 days a week while ‘probably’ needing the sales, warehouse, customer service (you get it) staff to work 5 days. We still live in a 5-day work week society and many business functions need to support that.
  • If you have to stagger some people working, let’s say Monday thru Thursday, and others, let’s say Tuesday thru Friday, it creates a lack of cohesion and balanced, fluid work.
  • If you can get done in 4 days what was designed to be 5 days, I would proffer you can find more to do to help the business thrive. A business just getting by is not a fun business to work in, and while I am not an advocate of being wholly tethered to a business, they do require attention.
  • If you go to four days, do you have people work longer work days (8:00 – 6:00)? Do you compensate them at 80-90% of what they were paid for a 5-day work week? Is there any giveback for the reduced time? I believe and understand many people live paycheck to paycheck, so reducing compensation is a non-starter for me.

Why I like the summer hours all the time concept, is that it checks the box for better work-life balance while also driving a business and the teams that run them forward. I like this approach because:

  • It allows you time to run errands, handle personal appointments and matters, and save them for Friday afternoon when you know you are done at 1:00.
  • You can spend more time with your significant other, friends, and kids (if you have them). Maybe Friday you are doing the pickup from school or daycare so the kids have a few hours with just you! Maybe you head home to get a jump on household tasks so they are done and not part of the weekend?
  • You can get an early jump on the weekend travel (and maybe miss traffic). I always liked getting a jump to head to the beach and “beat” traffic. It made my weekend feel like two-and-a-half days!
  • I’m a big fan of happy hours… you can get some stuff done AND get to happy hour for a good seat at the bar.
  • Having had half-day Fridays, myself in companies I worked at or ran, I found Fridays to be energizing! People were psyched to be in knowing they were out of there at 1:00. Smiles all around.
  • And finally, I believe it allows the whole company to do this as your other staff can build their weeks to enable this. While I have never run a factory, I have to imagine this can be done there also.

So, save your four-day workweek concept when it comes to running a thriving team-built business, but count me in for summer hours all the time! See you at happy hour!

Check out some of my other work here.