Working: Should Thursday Be the New Friday? The Environmental and Economic Pluses of the 4-Day Workweek

Evidence builds that working 40 hours in four days makes good sense for employee health and well-being, too

Writing in Scientific American, Lynne Peeples reports that "working four 10-hour days a week could offer many benefits, including an extra day of rest for employees and the environment."
As government agencies and corporations scramble to cut expenses, one idea gaining widespread attention involves cutting something most employees wouldn't mind losing: work on Fridays. Regular three-day weekends, without a decrease in the actual hours worked per week, could not only save money, but also ease pressures on the environment and public health, advocates say. In fact, several states, cities and companies across the country are considering, or have already implemented on a trial basis, the condensed schedule for their employees.

Local governments in particular have had their eyes on Utah over the last year; the state redefined the workday for more than 17,000 of its employees last August. For those workplaces, there's no longer a need to turn on the lights, elevators or computers on Fridays—nor do janitors need to clean vacant buildings. Electric bills have dropped even further during the summer, thanks to less air-conditioning: Friday's midday hours have been replaced by cooler mornings and evenings on Monday through Thursday. As of May, the state had saved $1.8 million.
Where it has been tried, the shift to a 4-day week has been extremely popular with workers. "People just love it," Lori Wadsworth, a professor of public management at Brigham Young University in Provo, is quoted as saying. She helped survey workers in Utah who follow the schedule and found 82 percent want to stick with it.
The environment seems to like it, too. "If employees are on the road 20 percent less, and office buildings are only powered four days a week," Langmaid says, "the energy savings and congestion savings would be enormous." Plus, the hour shift for the Monday through Thursday workers means fewer commuters during the traditional rush hours, speeding travel for all. It also means less time spent idling in traffic and therefore less spewing of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The 9-to-5 crowd also gets the benefit of extended hours at the DMV and other state agencies that adopt the four-day schedule.

An interim report released by the Utah state government in February projected a drop of at least 6,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually from Friday building shutdowns. If reductions in greenhouse gases from commuting are included, the state would check the generation of at least 12,000 metric tons of CO2—the equivalent of taking about 2,300 cars off the road for one year.
This is an idea that might have some legs. It's good for employers. It's good for employees. It's good for the planet. It may work as well for k-12 schools as it does for businesses and governments. Even taking in to account bureaucratic reluctance to change, this is one reform that may be hard to resist.

The Connecticut Law Review’s fall symposium will be “Redefining Work: Exploring the Legal Implications of the Four-Day Work Week.” It will be held at the University of Connecticut School of Law in October.
GM Lordstown to run 10-hour shifts, 4 days
Struggling Australian companies cutting back to a 4-day week
New York Assemblyman Michael Gianaris Proposes 4-Day Work Week for State Workers
Utah Governor Huntsman Announces Extended Government Service Hours
Four-day workweek creates new volunteers in Utah
El Paso City Council approves 4-day summer work week at City Hall
Melbourne Beach FL goes to 4-day workweek
Idaho: Another local government switching to 4-day week
Oregon: Schools study four-day week

1 comment:

Job Openings said...

I really really like this suggestion! a 4-hour workday will be better.

Related Posts with Thumbnails