Four-Day Workweek Is a Win-Win

Better for workers, better for the environment

Less electricity usage, more time

Photo url http://farm1.static.flickr.com/26/43152228_d18ac46f67.jpg

There's nothing healthy or balanced about a commute like this

As businesses scramble to cut expenses, some are choosing to close the office on Fridays rather than lay employees off. Advocates of the four-day, ten-hour-a-day workweek contend that it not only saves money and eases pressures on the environment, it also promotes employee health and allows a better balance between family and work.

In one high-profile example last August, the Utah state government switched more than 17,000 full-time employees to a four-day, 40-hour workweek. By May of this year, the state had saved $1.8 million on electric bills and janitorial services.

Less oil consumption, less commuting

It should be fairly obvious to anyone interested in conserving oil that four-day workweeks reduce the demand for oil, and ten-hour days ease commuter traffic during traditional rush hours.  The result is smoother, faster travel for all. Approximately 80% of the roughly 133 million workers in America drive to work alone in a car. With gas prices what they are, commuters in need of payroll loans are keeping payday loan companies busy.

In a New Republic article, Brad Plumer said:

Some 106 million Americans drive to work alone each day, an average of 16 miles each way. Cutting out one workday’s worth of commuting would not only lower U.S. oil imports by 5 to 10 percent, it would also prevent thousands of traffic fatalities, as well as cut down on the costs of road maintenance, since people tend to drive less on weekends. And workers would see a real income boost by saving on gas.

Longer weekends, fewer layoffs

Four-day workers drive somewhere else on Fridays

Four-day workers can commute to the beach on Fridays

Without a doubt, those 17,000 Utah state employees are still using electricity and driving their cars somewhere on their extra 52 (or 53) days off each year. But according to surveys, most find paying for their own electricity on Fridays and the gas to drive somewhere other than the office preferable to a layoff.

Lower absenteeism, higher morale

According to a state survey, 82% of the rescheduled Utah employees prefer the four-day workweek. The new schedule has resulted in increased job satisfaction and enhanced productivity.

A February 2009 interim report posted on the Work4Utah website notes improved morale and decreased absenteeism. It projects an annual reduction of at least 12,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions as a result of office-building shutdowns and reductions in employee commutes — the equivalent of taking about 2,300 cars off the road for one year. Several states, cities, and businesses across the country are considering, or have already implemented, four-day workweek schedules on a trial basis.

Taking it a little further . . .

Why work 40 hours a week?

Not all businesses can operate on a four-day schedule, obviously, but for those that can, why stop at four ten-hour days? Spending more hours at work on any given day doesn’t necessarily equate to increased productivity. How about four eight-hour days?

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Why work eight hours a day?

Many if not most office workers would agree that eight hours in a cubicle or in front of a computer equate to something like six hours of real work and two hours of mini-breaks to make the day mentally tolerable. Working longer days may be counter-productive, so why not four eight-hour days? And why stop there? How about four six-hour days where everyone actually works?  How about just showing up twice a month to pick up a paycheck?

Will Thursday become the new Friday?

It seems inevitable that in a four-day workweek Thursday will become the new Friday – the day when everyone is thinking about the three-day weekend and no one is around to respond to anything anyway. In any event, 13,940 Utah state workers are ready to replace “TGIF” with “TGIT”.

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