July 29 2009

Could A Four-Day Work Week Be Coming?

four day work weekIt seems there is a movement out there to cut the standard work week from the familiar five days of 8-hours each to four days of 10-hours each.

According to a recent article from Scientific American, numerous studies have been conducted about the economic and environmental benefits of eliminating one day from the standard five-day work week.  Instead of working a 40-hour schedule over five days of eight hours each, you would instead do it over four days of ten hours each.  This would give everyone a three day weekend each weekend.

Before you start whooping it up about how wonderful that is, remember this means you would be in your office ten hours a day for four days a week.  Imagine an 8 AM – 6 PM or 9 AM – 7 PM schedule.  Imagine trying to still cook at home… going to the gym… running errands… anything else you might try to do on a work day.  Still excited about the concept?

Before you start making up your minds, there are some actual benefits from the scheme.  In August 2008, Utah impletmented the plan with 17,000 of its state employees.  Here are the pros according to the state:

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Electric bills have dropped even further during the summer, thanks to less air-conditioning: Friday’s midday hours have been replaced by cooler mornings and evenings on Monday through Thursday.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.

There is no arguing that not only is the state saving money, but all of those things they listed should have a definite impact on the environment, and it also impacts your wallet as you are spending one day less a week on the road commuting to work, no money spent on an expensive lunch out and so on.

While everything everyone is listing sounds like it lands on the size of positive, I have to be my usual nay saying self and bring up the fact that unless you get the rest of the world on board, this will be a disaster if it should ever get wide spread in the USA only.  We already lag behind the majority of the world in many ways, and if we give them a leg up of working five calendar days a week as opposed to four, and mind you this has nothing to do with hours, they will have a distinct tactical advantage in reaction time to market movements, world developments and more.  Again I stress that this is only if by some wild-eyed chance this schedule would gain wide spread acceptance in this country.

If it remains in the realm of some state employees and a company here or there, more power to them, but as a national plan, I would have a problem with it.

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