Utah Tries a 4-Day Workweek

Utah has been running an experiment where a good portion of their government workers work for 10 hours four days per week.  They were expecting this to drastically lower their energy costs.  It turns out their energy costs didn’t go down much.  Many buildings could only be partially shutdown, so much of that expense was still there.  Also the cost of electricity and gas didn’t go up as much as they were anticipating. However, they did get a huge benefit they weren’t expecting.

Their overtime dropped dramatically.  By the end of a 10 hour day, most employees were ready to go home.  I’m guessing that the incentive of having Friday off helped everyone work just a bit harder.  Some of this improvement might be due to the Hawthorne effect where employees work harder when you are paying more attention to them. But, many employees love the new schedule.  One pointed out that they really didn’t have much time to do things in the evening on a 5 day work week, but with 4 days they had a bunch more options.  They were happy to give up some of their evening time to get an extra day off.

Utah isn’t sure if they are going to keep the schedule.  They are examining it closely.  While they recognize the benefits, they are trying to get a feel for what the public thinks and if having government offices closed an extra day causes a lot of inconvenience to the population.

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