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Our organization, like many others, has been forced into teleworking lately.

For the most part it's been successfully implemented, and has been found to be productive.

We are discussing maintaining teleworking, at least on a part time basis, once we are allowed to return to work. Maybe 2 days a week in office, the rest at home. However our organization mostly practices alternate work schedules of 4 10 hour per day, work weeks, or the 9/80 schedule. The reason for this is to comply with the state government's goals of reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.

So, for workers who telecommute full time or a couple of days a week, is there justification for them to maintain the 4/40 or 9/80 work schedules?

Are there studies that in and of itself the alternate schedule might increase productivity?

Or are there other benefits to the organization that aren't traffic or environmentally related?

  • An interesting but difficult question. The main consideration which might trump any academic reasons is that you usually want your workforce to follow the same schedule. It's hard to have half your employees being out every second Friday if that's how you implemented 9/80. Are you after academic answers or realistic ones? – Lilienthal May 6 at 7:39
  • If the reason is traffic then no. There is also another question. Why keep 9/80 schedule if teleworking? Why not 8 hours a day split in two 4 hours a day with 2 hour break? With telework the possibilities are endless. And mostly accepted by what company sees most beneficial to them. – SZCZERZO KŁY May 6 at 7:42
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    @Lilienthal I'm after real answers. Management is asking for suggestions on how to implement teleworking. So, I want fact, or at least good reasons to justify my suggestions. – Frank May 6 at 14:03
  • How flexible are you on your work hours? Do you work strict 9 to 5 (or 8 to 6)? Or can you work a few hours in the early morning, have a very long break and then work in the evening? Do you need to be available during certain times? – spickermann May 9 at 7:13
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Of course if avoiding traffic is the only reason behind alternate schedule, it's not mandatory when telecommuting. However there are a number of reasons for keeping this schedule.

Habits

People may have organised other activities around their usual 4/40 or 9/80 schedule. Changing this could wreak havoc a few ways, like being able to go to the gym, pick up the kids after school...

It's even worse if there are plans to stop telecommuting in a foreseeable future. It would mean changing schedule two times. And sometimes you could not be able to entirely go back to your previous schedule and habits once changed.

Company services

Having employee available sooner and later than a typical 9am-7pm schedule means you can provide services for a longer time each day and it can be useful in some industries.

Company operations

Some activities require less to no people working to be achieved properly. I have in mind networking operation, database backup, tool migrations... Having people in charge of specific operations working at a different time than others can ease some operations.

If you would personally like to work a regular schedule while telecommuting, I would advise you to just ask your manager if it's possible or if there are any issues with it. It may be accepted.

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Different companies can make different decisions on this. For example, a company could want everyone to be in the office at the same time (for cooperative purposes), while another company may prefer people to be present at different times (so they can lease a smaller office space).

I've already heard about both approaches being used/planned by different companies.

It's impossible to say what your company's specific expectation of office presence will be.

So, for workers who telecommute full time or a couple of days a week, is there justification for them to maintain the 4/40 or 9/80 work schedules?

I don't see how the new system would preclude those options.

  • Fulltime teleworkers were already not necessary to be at the office. You didn't provide a reason (or possibility) why that would now become necessary
  • If the company defines specific days/times for people to be present at the office, then 4/40 and 9/80 workers can still be present for those times. Since these workers work more than the standard 8 hours a day, therefore they are inherently able to be present for an 8 hour work day (and presumably come in earlier or stay longer to cover for the extra hours).

This is just my interpretation. In the end, the decision is up to your company. But I don't see any blocking issues here.

Are there studies that in and of itself the alternate schedule might increase productivity?

Anecdotally, many (but not all) developers I work with say that they're more productive at home than in the office.

While you could cynically argue that this is just a false claim they make as a way for them to get permission to work from home, observing the backlog does support this claim for most developers - work is predominantly being done at the same rate or faster.

Or are there other benefits to the organization that aren't traffic or environmentally related?

As mentioned before, the ability to downsize the office space can be a great way for a company to save on expenses - but this can cut down on coordination since not everyone can be in the office at the same time. Whether this is a problem or not is situational and can't be answered universally.

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