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The standard work week consists of 40 hours, split into 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. For offices that only operate during business hours, this means 8am - 5pm (with an hour of unpaid lunch) Monday through Friday. Schedules ordinarily vary from 6am - 3pm to 9am - 6pm. Compressed work weeks are more common in offices with 24 hour up time - the computer/software industry is a prime example. Compressed work weeks shove more hours of work into a day, meaning more days off. My work schedule is probably the most extreme form of compressed work week - I work 12 hours per day, alternating 3 or 4 days per week. Most compressed work weeks consist of 4 days at 10 hours each - giving the bonus of a regular long weekend.

Most companies in the valley (Phoenix) offer a compressed work week for a couple of reasons - to give employees "free days off" incentive, and to help air pollution (less days at work means less smog). All in all, it's a pretty fair trade off. I lose a lot of personal time at the beginning of the week, but I make up for it having every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off. Every other Wednesday's not bad either.

This applies to the US - I'm ignorant of the scheduling norms outside my own country. /msg me if you'd like me to expand & include other practices.

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