On August 1, state employees in Utah will be transitioning from the typical five-day workweek and will begin working Monday through Thursday. The four-day workweek is a “yearlong experiment” that will attempt to reduce state energy costs and also cut commuter gas spending.

State workers will put in 10-hour days, Monday through Thursday, and will follow these longer days with a three-day weekend.

“One of the jokes is that one of the biggest benefits will be for golf courses,” said Ryan Walker, an IT Director. In addition to golf, Walker is looking forward to camping and traveling. And he also plans to tackle the lengthy “honey-do” list that his wife has compiled.

State workers will receive the same amount of pay during the yearlong experiment.

Governor Joe Huntsman {R} issued the order for the adjusted workweek with the hope that state energy costs will decrease. Utah employs 24,000 state employees, and approximately 17,000 will be eligible for the shortened workweek. State police officers, prison workers, court employees and those that work in state-funded universities will continue to work five days a week.

State-run liquor stores will also be open for business on Friday’s.

In the state who’s motto is “INDUSTRY” and the state symbol is a beehive, some workers are skeptical about a shortened workweek. Issues of productivity during a 10-hour workday are a concern, as are issues related to childcare for families who will be working later hours. Additionally, those who commute to work via bus or train may have to adjust to new transit schedules.

Utah’s population hit 2.7 million people in 2007.
The shortened workweek is estimated to save about $3 million dollars, as lights, air conditioning, and heat will be off each Friday. Utah has a budget of approximately $11 million dollars set aside for energy costs. Kim Hood, Executive Director of the Department for Administrative Services, claims that the ozone and CO2 in the atmosphere could be reduced by 3,000 metric tons.

After one year, officials will evaluate the experiment and determine whether or not to extend the four-day workweek to all Utah workers, not just those employed by the state.

Related articles courtesy of MSNBC.com and WTOPnews.com.

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