In Praise of the Four-Day Workweek

Ransom Riggs

According to a recent study, people in the U.S. work more hours per week than anyone else in the world (those of us who still have our jobs, at least), and so to workaholics like us, the idea of a four-day workweek seems anathema. A few years ago, however, budgetary problems forced the government of one of our most conservative states, Utah, to attempt a radical experiment in an attempt to lower costs: instead of state employees working 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, 80% of them would work 8 to 6 Monday through Thursday. The Independent reports:

[Governor Jon Huntsman] took the step of requiring it by law for 80 per cent of the state's employees. (Obviously, some places - like the emergency services or prisons "“ had to be exempted.) At first, there was cautious support among the workforce but as the experiment has rolled on, it has gathered remarkable acclaim. Today, two years on, 82 per cent of employees applaud the new hours, and hardly anyone wants to go back. Professor Lori Wadsworth carried out a detailed study of workers' responses, and she says: "People love it." A whole series of unexpected benefits started to emerge. The number of sick days claimed by workers fell by 9 per cent. Air pollution fell, since people were spending 20 per cent less time in their cars. Some 17,000 tonnes of warming gases were kept out of the atmosphere. They have a new slogan in Utah "“ Thank God It's Thursday.

The Cintas corporation, which runs delivery trucks all over the country, has adopted the four-day week for about half its drivers, and found that it's saving them money on gas and truck maintainence.

What do you full-timers out there think? Could you handle a longer workday if it meant a longer weekend?