I tried a 4-day, compressed workweek. Here are 7 reasons why I wouldn't want to do it again.

compressed work week

Frank Olito/ Insider

Working a four-day workweek was challenging.

  • I tried a compressed workweek - which had me working 10-hour days for four days per week - and I did not like the unusual schedule.
  • I felt more stress and pressure to outperform the amount of work I usually do in a week, leading me to long for the weekends more than ever.
  • I found it difficult to set up meetings and to get help from managers because our schedules did not always align.
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As companies continue to prioritize their employees' work/life balance, some - like Amazon - are shifting to a compressed workweek.

During a compressed workweek, you work four days a week and have a three-day weekend. Some companies require employees to still work 40 hours a week. In that case, employees work 10-hour days for four days. Other companies allow employees to cut the hours down to 32 hours a week, so they work their usual eight hours for four days.

For some, it's a dream setup, and companies are reportedly reaping the benefits too, citing increased productivity and decreased stress levels.

When I decided to test out the compressed workweek for two weeks, I was excited to see what this new schedule would be like. I must note that halfway through the first week of my experiment, I was told to work from home as part of the ongoing pandemic concerns, but I continued to work 10 hours for four days a week from home.

At the end of my two weeks, I was surprised to learn that I prefer my usual schedule. Keep reading to find out why.

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Adding an extra hour to my workday seemed like it wouldn't be a big issue, but it was surprisingly difficult.

Adding an extra hour to my workday seemed like it wouldn't be a big issue, but it was surprisingly difficult.

My hours are typically 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., so I usually work nine hours each day. Before starting this experiment, I thought adding one more hour to my day to reach a 40-hour week seemed simple. What could adding one more hour really do?

I was surprised to learn that it was much more difficult than I anticipated. When all of my colleagues went home (or signed off during the work-from-home period), I still had one more hour to go, and an hour never felt longer. It got to the point where I would dread the 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. time frame. By the end of the two weeks, it felt like the extra hour was the bane of my existence.

It's also worth noting that my productivity often dropped during that last hour, and I felt I got nothing of worth done. This seems to be the case for most people. Recent studies found that the longer people work, the less productive they become.

During the extra hour of work, I had no support system.

During the extra hour of work, I had no support system.

Another reason I hated working that extra hour was that I felt like a lonesome man working in a ghost town. When I was still working in the office, I was the only person there. All the desks were empty, which meant all my co-workers who often keep me sane during the day were gone.

Additionally, this meant that my editor and manager was gone too. A couple of times I had a question that I needed to ask my editor, but I had to wait until the morning. This was a roadblock that I didn't anticipate and just further decreased my productivity.

Obviously, this wouldn't be an issue if an entire company decided to transition into the compressed workweek. If everyone worked the same hours, then there would be the support system in place at all times, but this was not the case for me.

Working just four days a week but turning out the same amount of work — and then some — was very stressful.

Working just four days a week but turning out the same amount of work  — and then some — was very stressful.

The Perpetual Guardian, an estate management firm in New Zealand, tried a four-day workweek but also cut hours down to 32 hours per week. As a result, the company found that the staff's stress levels were reduced by 7% throughout the experiment.

During my experiment, I felt the opposite effect on my stress levels. With this new work schedule, I felt an even greater strain to prove myself, especially since I had read that, according to studies, people who work this unique schedule actually get 40% more done throughout the week. The expectation to meet my goals and exceed them was more apparent than ever.

Although I had the same number of hours, I had to constantly push myself to turn out more content than ever. It felt like a race against the clock every day, and it was extremely stressful.

I was surprised to learn that I worked faster but not necessarily smarter.

I was surprised to learn that I worked faster but not necessarily smarter.

To try and reach my goals each day, I found myself working faster, but that isn't necessarily a good thing. At times, I would say I was rushing, making careless mistakes that I wouldn't have made if I wasn't under this new pressure to outperform my usual self.

"Time is not money if that efficiency is not matched with effectiveness," Forbes wrote back in 2016. "Racing through assignments only to deliver sloppy results not only costs businesses plenty of moolah every year, it could cost you your stellar reputation, health or (gasp) job if your great-balls-of-fire pace results in a doozy mistake, or compromises your well-being."

I found myself looking forward to the weekend more than ever before.

I found myself looking forward to the weekend more than ever before.

Like most people, I look forward to the weekend, but typically, I don't count down the days until Friday. I take that as a sign that I'm happy with my job.

However, when I worked the compressed workweeks, I found myself calculating how many hours and minutes until my weekend started. It was most likely because I felt overworked and stressed, making me need my weekends more than ever before.

I envisioned myself enjoying the city and local bars during my new-found long weekends, but I spent most of the time relaxing at home recovering from the stressful week. Those three-day weekends no longer felt like a great privilege, but instead an absolute necessity.

Trying to align my unique schedule with other companies that work normal hours was challenging at times.

Trying to align my unique schedule with other companies that work normal hours was challenging at times.

Before I started the experiment, I decided I would take Fridays off and work the other four days of the week. But quickly, I realized that was going to be difficult. A company I needed to interview and meet with for a story could only meet on a Friday. I felt uncomfortable explaining that it didn't fit into my schedule, so I had to completely rearrange my week. I decided to instead take the Monday off and work the Friday.

I think this is a sign of a larger issue within the compressed workweek. There are jobs and industries that work constantly with clients. If you're only available to meet four days a week and only on your schedule, then that might hinder the relationship. Even internally, you may have trouble scheduling meetings with people at your company who do not work a compressed workweek, or those who have a compressed workweek that doesn't align with yours.

It's not a great practice for all businesses, especially those in the industry I work in.

It's not a great practice for all businesses, especially those in the industry I work in.

For journalism, the news is happening 24/7, so taking an extra day off each week may not benefit me in the long run. If news breaks on my beat while I'm off on Friday, I will miss it and that can hurt my credibility. My job requires me to hit certain benchmarks, and I felt I had fewer opportunities to reach those goals because I was missing a day of the week.

Certainly, there are industries that this schedule may be perfect for, but some may actually hurt from a compressed workweek.

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