The four-day workweek is gaining momentum. The rising price of fuel has caused many workers to pursue alternative working schedules. A shortened week has seen a rapid increase in popularity. Even schools have considered the idea of reducing operation costs by closing their doors on Fridays. Another employee alternative is telecommuting. A new bill, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, proposes to mandate this “alternative.”
If passed, the bill would authorize all federal employees to work from home (i.e., telecommute), for at least 20% of their work hours every two weeks. Federal agencies would be charged with creating programs that include this requirement.
The bill doesn’t seem to take into account that telecommuting doesn’t always work. Just ask the employees of the State of Ohio. As reported by the New York Times back in April (see Ohio State Workers Are Coping: It’s Now 8 to 5), Ohio officials had tried unsuccessfully to implement a 4-day work week. After several months on the 4 10-hour workdays, state officials planned to eliminate the alternative schedule in order to provide the basic level of customer service. On the four-day-week program, departments were closed, phones unanswered, and the needs of citizens not met on Fridays. Ohio officials did not prohibit telecommuting or flexible work hours–but compressed schedules (4-days workweeks) were off-limits.