Ask workers what they'd think about a workweek made up of four 10-hour days, as opposed to five eight-hour days, and you'll probably find a split. Some will see an extended day as too exhausting. Still others will be delighted at the prospect of more three-day weekends. However you feel personally, if you're the person making the decision to go to 10-hour days, you're going to need an easy-to-implement schedule -- and convincing arguments to win over workers who fall into the first category.
Get employees to buy in. Hold a staff meeting and explain the benefits of the 10-hour workday from the perspective of the employees, not the company. That said, if the change in scheduling is being made to save money so employees don't have to be laid off, share that information. Earn loyalty and commitment from workers by giving them a say in the scheduling change.
Revise company policies to reflect changes necessitated by a 10-hour day. Typical language in such policy revisions are: The company may cancel the four-day workweek at any time and revert to the conventional five-day schedule if it proves non-productive. Discuss the potential for employee abuse, supervisors' responsibilities for monitoring the new schedule, and the role of the human resources department during the transition. Identify critical functions and tasks as they relate to the new hours and outline employees' responsibility for reorganizing their time and obligations to handle the new schedule.
Examine scheduling models. Assess schedules commonly used by companies with 10-hour days (see References) for ways to design shifts: 1. Everyone works the same four 10-hour days, and the business is closed three days a week. 2. For businesses open five days a week: Each worker puts in four days, and workers have one rotating day off. 3. For businesses open six days a week: Two shifts of workers, each with two rotating days off.
4. For businesses open 24/7: Seven-day coverage that relies on different start times.
Adjust workplace protocols to accommodate new scheduling plans if problems arise during the first days of the changeover. Consider a backup scheduling alternative for employees who must stay with a five-day/eight hour schedule. Explain any pay date changes that may occur as a result of the shift in operating hours.
Stage regular, repeated check-ins with employees during the early days of the new schedule to make certain staff morale isn't suffering and to answer any questions that may arise from the new schedule.
Get professional assistance if you're not confident in your ability to restructure the schedule. There are companies that assist businesses with this task. (See Resource for one such company.) Expect to get a spreadsheet with shift start and stop times plus follow-up calls from a consultant to answer questions. Charges for this type of service start at about $200 -- more, if things get complicated.