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Alternative work schedules: flextime and the compressed work week.

Hurrell JJ Jr.; Colligan MJ
Job stress and blue collar work. Cooper CL, Smith MJ, eds. New York: Wiley, 1985 Jan; :131-147
Flextime and work week compression as alternatives to conventional work scheduling were discussed. Flextime is a work schedule that does not alter the traditional number of working hours but allows workers some flexibility in when they choose to start and stop work. A number of studies has indicated that flextime reduces job absenteeism and seems to improve job satisfaction and morale. Studies of the effect of flextime on job performance have not produced consistent results. The few studies that have been conducted of the effects of flextime on individual and family life have generally shown positive effects or no effects. A compressed work week is one in which the traditional 40 hour 5 day work week is reduced to three or four days of 12 or 10 hour shifts. A 1980 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey found that approximately 2.7% of the US workforce is on some type of work week compression schedule. The most popular schedule is one consisting of four consecutive 10 hour workdays followed by three days off. Several studies have shown that work week compression does not appear to impair job performance. In some studies, job efficiency appears to improve, but the effect is only temporary. Work week compression appears to improve morale and job satisfaction. No adverse effects on safety and absenteeism have been found. Longer work days appear to result in a greater worker perception of fatigue, but the workers feel that this is compensated by the advantage of having extended off days and blocks of leisure time. Laboratory studies have shown that switching to a 12 hour work day on a compressed schedule from the 8 hour work day does not cause dramatic fatigue effects despite changes in the circadian rhythm of body temperature. These changes seem to be influenced by personal and demographic characteristics.
Work-intervals; Work-performance; Psychological-factors; Demographic-characteristics; Job-analysis; Sociological-factors; Lost-work-days; Occupational-health
Publication Date
Document Type
Cooper CL; Smith MJ
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NIOSH Division
Source Name
Job stress and blue collar work
Page last reviewed: November 13, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division