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Should We Embrace a Four-Day Workweek?

4daycalendar.jpgAs the price of fuel continues to skyrocket, there's a workplace trend afoot to shortening workweeks to save energy. In Utah, administrative offices will be closed on Fridays while hours will be extended Monday through Thursday. Birmingham, Ala. implemented a truncated schedule for city employees on July 1, and officials in Montgomery County, PA are considering a four-day plan as well.

In addition to reducing fuel costs and electricity usage, a four-day plan could actually improve your workplace. Robert LaJeunesse has argued that a shorter workweek is correlated with higher productivity. That's supported by a recent Brigham Young University study that found a four-day work week may increase job satisfaction and productivity. Aaron Newton also points out that a four-day workweek could reduce absenteeism, decrease labor costs, and improve both employee morale and efficiency.

In a real-world example, says Time magazine, Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Fla., went to four days for the 2007 summer session and saved $268,000 in energy costs. And over the year, sick leave fell 50%, and turnover among the 1,500-person staff dropped 44%. There are also a host of non-work benefits: less traffic congestion, potentially reduced childcare costs, spending more time with family, more time for volunteering and community outreach. And really, who wouldn't want a three-day weekend?

But it's not an option that everyone embraces. Workers may struggle with child-care schedules and finding personal time, and a 10-hour workday can be grueling. And from a business perspective, it can be difficult to maintain a four-day schedule when your clients are still working five.

What do you think?

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(image by C.C. Holland)

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