“The four-day workweek, with 10-hour workdays for the first four days of the week and a fifth day off, could become a popular option for the cost-conscious commuter.” In my post earlier this week, How the Current Economy Could Affect the Future of Flextime, I considered whether the price of fuel might push employers to be more permissive of alternative and flexible schedules.
Well, I hate to say “I told you so,” so I’ll say instead that, “Great minds think alike.” There has been a flurry of similar speculations in the news all week.
Ohio’s Kent State University has already made the switch, permitting custodial employees to elect to work a four-day week. And municipal governments across the country, from Hollywood, Florida, to the Webster Parish in Louisiana, to St. Lawrence County in N.Y. are considering making the change.
The N.Y. Times reports that even school districts are moving to a shortened week to help cut fuel costs.
USA Today has the following to report:
In Alabama, the city of Birmingham decided to adopt a four-day week for employees starting July 1.
“We are doing it in an effort to help employees save some money on gasoline,” says Deborah Vance, chief of staff to the mayor. “Offices and departments that deal directly with the public will maintain their five-day schedule.”
On June 2, road crews in Walworth County in Wisconsin will start working four-day shifts. Shane Crawford, a deputy administrator, said his county experimented with four-day workweeks last summer. Crews spent less time on the road driving to and from work sites, reducing fuel and overtime costs.
Starting June 1, Avondale, Ariz., will move to a four-day workweek at City Hall. That eliminates one day of commuting for about 150 employees. Claudia Whitehead, the town’s economic development director, who says her monthly gas costs were starting to rival her car payments, spends about two hours a day commuting. “It’ll have a real positive impact,” she says.
Among businesses, 26% are offering a flexible schedule to help employees with high gas prices, a May survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found. And nearly half of professionals say higher gas prices have affected their commutes, according to a recent survey by Robert Half International, up from 34% two years ago in a similar survey.
Some employers that can manage it are moving to shut down for one day. For one day a week, vehicles used for work can sit idle, or air conditioning can be kept off.