Utah, best known for great powder skiing, pulling celebrities to its mountains once a year for the Sundance Festival, and the country's center for the Mormon Church might just land on the map for innovative work philosophy. And it was by mistake. Sort of.
About 16 months ago, state workers started putting in four-day work weeks as a gas-saving measure.
Now Iowa might be moving in that direction. Governor Chet Culver is looking to save $700 million over the next 5 years. Part of his analysis is set to include research into a 10-hour, 4-day work week for state workers. Public Works LLC, a consulting firm, says Iowa could save $2 million a year with a four day work week.
One Iowa federal employee who agreed to speak with under condition of anonymity said several people in her office have lobbied for a four day work week. They're not trying to work less. They offered to work overlapping days so work gets done. The idea is to be able to handle doctors appointments and such without having to take sick days. But so far, appeals are falling on deaf ears. However, federal workers have a different boss, ultimately, than state employees.
A Learning Experience
The President of the University of Montana is hoping to implement a similar plan. President George Dennison says it would create a potential savings of $450,000. While approval is not needed by the Montana Board of Regents, because the change is significant. It would likely be discussed by the board.
A public school district in Minnesota is on the verge of a four day week also. The intent is to reduce expenditures over the long-term. Savings of $50,000-$100,000 annually seem small but every dollar saved would go back into education.
Punching the Clock
Several small towns have adopted four day work weeks. In upstate New York, the towns of Fishkill, Unionvale, and Beekman close their town halls one day per week. In the town of Beekman, while originally hours were extended, the town supervisor reported that few people were conducting business between 7:45 and 9:00 a.m, hours previously available for residents on their commutes to work.
Back to the Beehive State. Utah's measures haven't been without wrinkles. Governor Gary Herbert is considering opening driver license offices on Fridays to reduce the backlog which has lead to waits of more than five hours. And we all know, the only thing worse than a mean, impatient Department of Motor Vehicle employee is a mean, impatient DMV customer!