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Natural Awakenings

Long Weekends: Four-Day Work Week Produces Multiple Bonuses

Feb 01, 2010 03:00AM

Utah’s public sector is leading a change to a four-day work week, watched closely by other states interested in realizing comparable savings in energy costs for employers and gasoline costs for commuters. The first year’s 13 percent savings in government building energy use and associated 12,000-metric-ton reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions will help the state reach its goal of a 20 percent drop in energy usage by 2015. But that’s only half the story.

Managers report rises in productivity among Utah’s 18,000 state workers as a result of their new four, 10-hour days, to the tune of 9 percent less time off, according to Mike Hansen, strategic planning manager in the Governor’s Office of Planning & Budget. The extended days generally make it easier for customers to access services in the evenings. At the Department of Motorized Vehicles, lines have disappeared, although they’ve determined that it’s best for the department to also keep Friday hours.

Approval ratings for the four-day work week are high, at 82 percent among state employees and 60 percent among the general public. El Paso, Texas, and Melbourne Beach, Florida, have already made the switch, as well. Permanent three-day weekends may not be far behind.


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