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All Hail The Four Day Work Week!



September 01, 2009 – Comments (13)



The Four-Day Workweek Is Winning FansBy Bryan Walsh Monday, Sep. 07, 2009WWW.TIME.COM

In an era when most of us seem to be working more hours than ever (provided we're still lucky enough to have jobs), 17,000 people in Utah have embarked on an unusual experiment. A year ago, the Beehive State became the first in the U.S. to mandate a four-day workweek for most state employees, closing offices on Fridays in an effort to reduce energy costs. The move is different from a furlough in that salaries were not cut; nor was the total amount of time employees work. They pack in 40 hours by starting earlier and staying later four days a week. But on that fifth (glorious) day, they don't have to commute, and their offices don't need to be heated, cooled or lit.

After 12 months, Utah's experiment has been deemed so successful that a new acronym could catch on: TGIT (thank God it's Thursday). The state found that its compressed workweek resulted in a 13% reduction in energy use and estimated that employees saved as much as $6 million in gasoline costs. Altogether, the initiative will cut the state's greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 12,000 metric tons a year. And perhaps not surprisingly, 82% of state workers say they want to keep the new schedule. "It's beneficial for the environment and beneficial for workers," says Lori Wadsworth, a professor at Brigham Young University who helped survey state employees. "People loved it." Those who didn't tended to have young children and difficulty finding extended day care. (See 10 ways your job will change.)

Managers from around the world have gotten in touch with Utah officials, and cities and towns including El Paso, Texas, and Melbourne Beach, Fla., are following the state's lead. Private industry is interested as well — General Motors has just instituted a workweek of four 10-hour days at several of its plants. "There is a sense that this is ready to take off," says R. Michael Fischl, an associate dean at the University of Connecticut's law school, which is organizing a symposium on four-day weeks.

The advantages of a so-called 4-10 schedule are clear: less commuting, lower utility bills. But there have been unexpected benefits as well, even for people who aren't state employees. By staying open for more hours most days of the week, Utah's government offices have become accessible to people who in the past had to miss work to get there in time. With the new 4-10 policy, lines at the department of motor vehicles actually got shorter. Plus, fears that working 10-hour days would lead to burnout turned out to be unfounded — Wadsworth says workers took fewer sick days and reported exercising more on Fridays. "This can really make a difference for work-life balance," says Jeff Herring, Utah's executive director for human resources.

Of course, in the age of the BlackBerry, fewer days in the office may not make much of a difference in terms of workload. But as energy prices start rising again, it makes sense to be flexible and find savings where we can. 10-4, 4-10.

13 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On September 01, 2009 at 1:16 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

I have been a advocate of this idea for years. I am glad it has found a place to take root.

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#2) On September 01, 2009 at 1:46 PM, 4everlost (28.88) wrote:

Published Monday, September 7th 2009 huh?  Thanks for the article!  Rec #6 from me.

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#3) On September 01, 2009 at 1:57 PM, TMFJoker (86.81) wrote:

Along these lines, there is a lot of interesting literature about 12 hour shifts vs. the standard 8.

 I guess people either love it or hate it but Police officers, Nurses, Doctors and others who work these longer shifts in places that are open 24 hours/day have been preaching the benefits for years (one of the advantages is fewer shift rotations).

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#4) On September 01, 2009 at 2:09 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

#2 - I like to think the date has to do with the print edition of the story. Or maybe I found a story from the future?

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#5) On September 01, 2009 at 2:29 PM, 100ozRound (28.54) wrote:

I don't understand why we have a psuedo-mandatory 40 hour week.  Many people I know can get what they need done well under 40 hours per week.  So they stretch their work-days out by doing unimportant, unproductive tasks.


Of course, people working on an hourly basis want their 40 no matter how productive they are

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#6) On September 01, 2009 at 2:51 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

#6 - The FDR administration established the 40 hour work week as being the standard. Wasn't that nice of the government to do for us? We all would have died or fallen to the Axis powers if that had not been done.

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#7) On September 01, 2009 at 4:00 PM, beatnik11 (< 20) wrote:

#5 Yes, like me who likes to surf the internet and browse fool during my work day.  Depending on how much work I have gotten in for the day changes how much or little I putt around on the internet.  I always get what I need done, just depending on the load I am more or less efficient about getting it done.  Given the choice though I would just about always chose to leave early.

For my two cents worth, I would love a 4-10 day, it wouldnt be fun to come in earlier and stay later, but that extra free day would be worth it.  There is much more you can do and more time to relax when you have a 3 day weekend

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#8) On September 01, 2009 at 4:31 PM, ChrisGraley (28.53) wrote:

Better alternative

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#9) On September 01, 2009 at 11:48 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

#8 - God bless, Chris! I will have to learn more. How is my soon to be expat buddy today?

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#10) On September 02, 2009 at 11:31 AM, ChrisGraley (28.53) wrote:

I'm just dandy. I reccommend that book by the way. the author is a little flakey, but the ideas do work.

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#11) On September 02, 2009 at 2:25 PM, 100ozRound (28.54) wrote:

#10 - It's pretty interesting how he becomes a championship Chinese Kickboxer.

He drops 2 weight classes for his weigh-in by dehydrating himself.  After weigh-in he rehydrates back to normal weight and then just throws people out of the ring to disqualify them.  HA!!

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#12) On September 02, 2009 at 2:33 PM, Rowants (< 20) wrote:

Been trying to get this at work for years. The employees want it, but management and our fake union don't. Funniest part is, we are basically a 20 hour per day outfit, so two shifts of 3am to 1pm, and 1pm to 11pm would be perfect, but retain the skeleton crew on the overnight shift to cover 11pm to 3 am like it already is.

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#13) On September 02, 2009 at 2:39 PM, prose976 (< 20) wrote:

Actually, if the 4-day work week becomes the norm, only the "over-achievers" who dare to go it on their own and work longer hours or more days (heaven forbid), will wind up with the lion's share of the spoils.

So let the "people," the "comrades" work their 4 days.  I'll work whichever hours I choose, and I'll rise above and beyond because of it.

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