By working compressed hours, I am more productive in the days I am working and have more time to spend doing the things I enjoy outside of work.

Flexible working versus compressed working

‘Flexitime’ is perhaps the most common flexible working arrangement offered by businesses. Compressed working hours is a type of flexible working arrangement that allows employees to compress their regular working week into fewer days. At Incremental, we are fortunate that we are offered both benefits, to help maintain our work-life balance.

Protecting my mental health

During the covid lockdowns, I found the change in working style was beginning to push me towards a burn-out. Because I didn’t have a commute anymore, I was starting earlier and finishing later. My days were becoming solid blocks of back-to-back meetings, meaning I was finding it increasingly more difficult to ‘switch off.’ I decided that having a work-free day a week would help with that problem. Across the business, a number of my colleagues had already made the switch to either a 4-day week or a 9-day fortnight, allowing themselves the time to recharge and put their energy into other things on their day off.

A typical working week

Although Incremental has always offered flexible hours, and I had used that arrangement frequently to suit requirements in my personal life, I opted into the company benefit of compressed working hours. This means that I work 9.375 hours per day, over 4 days a week. I have chosen to work 8.00-18.30, with 1 hour for lunch, as my preferred working pattern. A Friday is my normal “non-working day”, but Incremental’s flexible working policy means I can switch my day off as and when required. This benefit is very helpful to create a long weekend when I need it, without having to use my holiday entitlement.

Incremental is my first experience of working compressed hours, as this had never been an option with previous employers. Although my days are now longer, I have definitely found it beneficial having time to myself at the start and end of each day to progress my own objectives and actions.

Benefits of working compressed hours

During lockdown, I shared responsibility with my brother for looking after our parents. My father had a stroke in 2020 and was therefore unable to drive, causing both my parents to become house bound. My non-working Friday became my day to go and visit them and take them out somewhere for a change of scenery or even just take them to the supermarket. I think this was invaluable to both me them.

I also view Fridays as being my mental health day. It’s a day where I get the house to myself. I can progress any DIY projects I have on the go. Sometimes I go to the cinema in the afternoon to see the latest movies without a large crowd of people. Or I can even homebrew some beer in my back garden!

Career impact

I’m pleased to say I haven’t noted any negative impact on my career since making the switch to working compressed hours. My colleagues know about the hours I work and arrange meetings to suit. I make sure my non-working day is clearly marked in my calendar. In fact, I believe my colleagues find it helpful to know I am available a bit earlier in the day or later in the evening. We can address any urgent matters straight away rather than having to wait.

An employee-first organisation

Although Incremental has always offered the option of flexible working, the ability to compress my hours has had a marked benefit on my mental health and work life balance. It also opens up further benefits in flexing the non-working day to suit my personal life.

Incremental has always been forward thinking when it comes to looking after its employees. When my dad was in hospital, Incremental allowed me unlimited compassionate leave in the afternoons to visit him. This was invaluable to my family, myself and my own mental health, as I didn’t feel stressed or pressured about work, while dealing with the stresses and pressures in my family life. Find out more about how Incremental supports employee mental health by checking out this blog on mental health first aid training.