The Three-Day Weekend Experiment

For the past year, all government employees in Utah have had a four-day workweek. The results of the trial run are in, and they look good: the state says it saved $1.8 million in electrical bills, eliminating 6,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, while 82 percent of workers say they like the new scheme. One possible downside of the new schedule, reports Scientific American, is that it may encourage eating more fast food, as workers put in 10-hour days to make up for the lost Friday. (HT: Andrew Sullivan) [%comments]

Gradys Kitchen

I would be interested to learn what impact an extra 'weekend' day has on consumption e.g. more in-state travel/tourism or an extra trip to the mall.


UT gov save some carbon, some cash. I wonder, does the society as whole benefit from that?
Is the net gain positive?

I ask these because I care about gov efficiency (an oxymoron?) to society. If I were a public servant, I would probably like that scheme.


That may save the Utah government the electricity, but the Earth may be worse off. Now, these people are at home with their air conditioners cooling their houses to a cooler temperature than they otherwise would have been had they been away from home.


This would never translate to my industry. As a software developer, I'm already putting in nearly 10-hour days five days a week. (Well, most of us leave early on Friday, so four 10-hour days and an 8-hour day.)


Not to mention the confusion that ensues when citizens don't realize that all government offices are closed on Fridays.


This sounds beneficial for the government as far as their own spending, but I wonder about the actual quality of the work from the employees. Working a 10 hour day must be exhausting, and it seems like the last couple of hours would have very low productivity levels, but maybe that's just the way I am. It's an interesting concept for sure.


I would much rather work 4 10 hour shifts instead of 5 8s, but I fail to see how would it encourage eating more fast food. Regardless of working 8, 10, or 12 hours, making a sandwich or heating up leftovers takes the same small amount of time.

And Craig, your cynicism doesn't go deep enough: they probably will be home with the AC running on the day off, but many of them don't turn the AC off while they are at work anyway.


I live in Utah and it is kind of a pain if you need to get in touch with a government agency and it's Friday. Everyone else is at work, but they aren't.

However, if I worked for the government, I would be loving it. If only we could get the private sector to move to four-day workweeks.


As a privately employed Utahn, I'd say the largest benefit is MUCH better traffic on Friday. In return, the downside is longer "rush hour" that causes traffic jams even when I leave work at 6 or 6:30.

Another David

As a federal employee, I have a pretty flexible schedule. I currently work on an Alternate Work Schedule, so in a two week pay period I will have eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day, and one day off. I plan switching over to 4-10 (four days a week, 10 hours a day) in a couple months because I have a couple friends who do that now and love it.

I don't get anything done on Fridays anyway, might as well take the day off.

Larry G

The change may make it somewhat more difficult to find youth sport coach volunteers in areas with significant numbers of state workers. Practices are typically held early evening on weekdays.

Andrew C

I wonder if they are getting more, less, or the same amount of real work done versus their old schedule?

Doctor Gonzo

I used to have a private sector job with 4 10-hour days. It was great. Working 10 hours instead of 8 really wasn't that much more exhausting, but I worked in an office environment; obviously, doing physical labor would be different.


"This would never translate to my industry. As a software developer, I'm already putting in nearly 10-hour days five days a week. (Well, most of us leave early on Friday, so four 10-hour days and an 8-hour day.)"

As someone who works 5 12-hour days and takes extra reading home with me (finance), I am also jealous!


Why am I not in Utah?!


Having just moved from Utah this year, I can say that I liked the 4 10-hour day system. It made it so that government offices were open when I was done with my (9-5 non-government) job!

I hate skipping work to go to the DMV etc.


I don't suppose anybody thought to track how much work was getting done? I guess it was a government office so they don't really pay attention to that stuff but are 4x10 hour workdays really equivalent to 5x8 hours days?

Presumably 2x20hour days would not be as efficient as 5x8 hour days, even if the employees would back it but I'm wondering where the productivity tradeoff is.


"I fail to see how would it encourage eating more fast food."

I would think that getting home later leaves less time during the week for meal preparation, hence the temptation to grab KFC or whatever for the fam on the trip home.

Alternatively those with longer commutes are either eating "in town", driving hungry, or grabbing something to eat on the way home.


My guess is that prodctivity would increase. most people I know do not get much done the first hour (getting cofee and talking to coworkers) or last hour (don't want to start a new project this late) of the day.


Utah is a horrible place filled with polygamists and bad beer. Don't be deceived by the 4 day work weeks, incredible recreation, and low cost of living. You would hate living here ;)