Work weeks for much of the labor population should consist of optional four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days, still keeping the workweek length at 40 hours. A scheduling system could be devised at the employer level so that, on average, only 20% (one/fifth) of the labor population participating in this 4-day workweek is off on any given weekday. While it may be harder for some businesses to continuously staff their workplace, perhaps enough built-in or engineered flexibility could be found to make this proposition feasible, allowing the business to be sufficiently staffed for the full five day workweek.
The 4-day workweek should apply to most workers except those such as seasonal workers or educational workers which normally receive extended vacation periods, like 10-week summer vacations, etc.
Such a system would give people one free weekday during which they could do things that they may not be able to do conveniently during weekday evenings, weekends, holidays, or whenever they are not working, such as going to the dentist/doctor, visiting their children’s school, staying home to wait for a scheduled repairman, signing for a special delivery, or to do any other business/stuff that can usually only be conveniently done during normal business hours within the workweek. A workweek consisting of four 10-hour days would also have numerous other benefits, the most obvious of which are reduced traffic congestion for everybody, reduced wear and tear on cars and whatever other modes of transportation are used to get to and from work, and a significant increase of up to two hours or more per week of free time per individual because of the elimination for the need to get ready for and travel to and from work for a fifth time during the week. This proposal may also help reduce the general level of stress of society and possibly give people more time to slow down, think about the meaning of life, organize, help other people, and do other things.
If there is a one-day holiday that occurs during any particular week, then that should be counted as the day of the week that is taken off and the other four days should be worked. Ideally, during normal weeks, the weekdays that employees are off should probably be rotated among workers through any combination of employee requests and employer demands. These days off could be scheduled for terms lasting a month, quarter, year, or whatever length of time both the company and workers decide upon. Though this change will make life a little more complicated, especially at first, once a system is worked out, the benefits should prove themselves worthy to all involved.
Part time workers could be used to fill in for periods of expected high labor demands. For example, 4-, 6-, and even 8-hour workdays could be instituted in combination with either 4- or 5-day workweeks.
7-Day Work Week?
Using this kind of employee time-shifting scheduling system, it may be possible to have stores, government offices, etc., open for 6 or even 7 days a week. This would make life far more convenient for so many people, because they could conduct their normal business during the ‘weekend’ when such places would otherwise be closed. This would mean that traffic during the week would be lightened because some of that demand would be shifted to the weekends. Of course, that also means that traffic during the weekends would be significantly heavier. However, more people would benefit from the reduced traffic during the week than would be disadvantaged by the increased traffic during the weekends simply because of the fact that more people are on the roads during the weekdays as opposed to the weekends.
In summary, spreading out the use of all infrastructures (roads, buildings, etc.) across more time (either a longer day and/or a longer week) would mean that such infrastructures are empty for less time. Yes, utility consumption would increased, so assessments must be made to see if the benefits of lower traffic/congestion, more worker ‘free time’, etc., justify these additional costs.