Also known as Compressed Work Week, an Alternative Work Schedule
challenges the traditional paradigm of America's standard work week. It
regularly allows full-time employees to eliminate at least one work day
every other week by working longer hours during the remaining days. The
definition's intention primarily includes weekly and biweekly
arrangements. Weekly arrangements such as 4/40 eliminate one work day
every week. Biweekly arrangements such as 9/80 eliminate one day every
Such work arrangements must be agreed upon between the employee,
their customer, their leader, and their team.
An Alternative Work Schedule is a natural extension of
Flex Time. Flex Time is a policy allowing individuals some
flexibility in choosing the time, but not the number, of their working
hours. When a work day is eliminated we refer to this as a flex day
- 5/40 The traditional 5 day 40 hour work week, usually
eight hours a day, Monday through Friday. Due to flex-time and
project demands, actual hours may vary. The 5/40 is
not considered an "Alternative Work Schedule", but, is defined here
for the sake of comparison to the Alternative Work Schedules defined
- 4/40 Work is scheduled over 4 days a week, taking one
regularly scheduled flex day off each week. Due to flex-time and
project demands, actual hours may vary from the
average 10 hour work day.
- 9/80 Work is scheduled over a nine day work period as
opposed to a ten day work period, taking a flex day off every second
week. Due to flex-time and project demands, actual hours may vary
from the average nine hour work day.
- 5/40 Variation Work longer hours for four days, and work
a half a day on Friday. Note that while this may suit ones lifestyle
or TDY travel schedule, this doesn't eliminate a commute trip. Due
to flex-time and project demands, actual hours may vary.
- 6/60 Some projects are just like that. You've put
in a full work week by Wednesday and you know you'll be in on the
weekend too. See the discussion below about hour
The opportunity to use an Alternative Work Schedule is evaluated on a
case-by-case basis with consideration given to the availability of
appropriate work, employee requirements, impact on the account, impact
on the project requirements, et cetera as determined by the
leader. The schedule is evaluated regularly to determine if it is still
viable with respect to the employee's contributions, employee's personal
needs, project consideration, customer impact, and effect on the account
Most employers do not expect that project requirements be met
regardless of the work schedule or arrangement. Employers also expect
that business needs may necessitate a temporary change in schedule and
that the employee remain flexible to meet those needs.
Your job may require you to document in writing the terms agreed upon
between employee and the leader.
Make it clear that the employee is still working full time for full
time compensation. Eliminating a work day under this arrangement does
not constitute part-time work for a reduction in compensation and
Hourly employees may be affected by state laws that determine when
overtime should be paid. The leader and employee should recognize that
these schedules involve working more than 8 hours a day and some involve
working more than 40 hours in one week. Consider when an hourly employee
works the 9/80 pattern, 44 hours are worked one week, and 36 hours the
next. Is overtime due just because the first week exceeded 40 hours? The
leader and employee need to find a definition of overtime that is
agreeable to both parties, and follows state law.
A schedule is established that will remain constant each week. (e.g.,
The employee working a 4/40 schedule, works Monday through Thursday and
takes Friday off.) The employee, however, must remain flexible for
unforeseen needs and be able to respond in a timely manner to customer
Endeavor to have training and travel fall within a 'normal' work
week. However, circumstances may require the employee to change their
'normal' weekly schedule. The employee should be aware of this
possibility and each leader should work with the employee on a
The employee is encouraged to schedule personal business when not at
work. (After all, the employee has an extra day off during the week, to
wait at home for the cable guy or whatever.)
Employees working a compressed work week schedule at least one half
hour lunch break daily. (Note: Hourly employees are generally required
by law to take schedule breaks. Please see your supervisor for details.)
The employee must work out with the team and the customer what day
they will take as their flex day off. Some teams will require that flex
days off are distributed so that they are not ever short handed. This
would ensure someone is always there to support the customer. Other
teams may require that everyone take the same flex day off. This works
well when a team is developing a product together and cannot afford to
wait for someone to return from their flex day to share information.
Individuals always notify their team mates and customer when they
will be out of the office for their flex day.
Saving flex days for some future day should not allowed. Flex days
must not be confused with vacation days. "Banking" flex days for future
use creates an accounting nightmare. If the employee feels that they
have worked an especially long number of hours one week and feel they
should be compensated with additional time off in the future, they
should see their supervisor.
Many people are salaried employees and as such are not paid by the
hour. A 40 hour work week is considered a "norm", so most of the
examples given here use hours for clarity. Due to flex-time and project
demands, your actual hours may vary from day to day and week to week.
Try not to get too bogged down in hour counting. The idea is to pace
your workload over fewer days, not to watch the clock.
Try as you will, sooner or later it will happen that someone not
working an Alternative Work Schedule notices that he is working 10 hours
a day 5 days a week while his team mate works 10 hours a day for 4 days
with Fridays off. Supervisors should deal with this by recognizing when
someone is assigned too much work and needs relief or when someone does
not have enough to do.
To avoid the pit-falls of hour counting, focus on productivity and
accomplishments, not body present time.