Employers across US shorten workweek to save fuel
Employers in Alaska, Utah, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Idaho have already made the energy-saving move to a four-day week, and many more are thinking about it.
The trend is largely due to the high cost of fuel, but reform to the 40-hour, five-day work week is being considered by some companies for reasons of morale and mental health as well. Perhaps an improved work-life balance is the one positive side effect of pricey fuel. That, and we're driving less.
Morning Edition, July 1, 2008 · Birmingham, Ala., is the latest city to go to a four-day week to deal with higher fuel prices. City employees there will now work fewer days, but will have 10-hour shifts.
This summer, government employees in Utah will stay home on Fridays, and lawmakers in states including Arkansas, New Mexico and Idaho are considering doing it, too. But will the new schedule actually result in savings?
Chris Hartzell, chief of operations for the city of Birmingham, is helping to implement the new plan.
"While it's a four-day week for employees, the city will still be in operation five days a week," he says. "We're just breaking the shifts up between Fridays and Mondays because we want to allow the citizens that have to do business with the city to still have access to the city."
Hartzell says the plan will benefit workers and the city, which has seen its fuel costs increase by 50 percent.
Employers are being urged to introduce a four-day working week and offer their staff a mileage allowance for walking or cycling to work.
They are among a series of recommendations by the Scottish government to cut car use and carbon emissions in the workplace.
Ministers say “smarter working” measures, including compressing the working week would help to cut traffic congestion, make communities safer and boost morale.