Four-day work week

Civil servants in the US state of Utah are about to switch to a four-day work week. It’s not voluntary. Everyone will work 10 hours a day for four days, and some will have to change their hours so the public will not be hugely inconvenienced.

The state is making no bones about the reason. This is serious stuff.

Governor Jon Huntsman, a first-term Republican, has introduced the change, which will affect the majority of state employees, in an attempt to reduce the state’s carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency, improve customer service and provide workers more flexibility.

Yeah, right. What is it about politicians that they figure we’ll grab their Kool-Aid and swallow it.

In fact:

“One of the jokes is that one of the biggest benefits will be for golf courses,” said Ryan Walker, 49, an information technology director….

“”I’m thrilled,” said Rose Kenworthy, 58, an executive secretary at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. “Now I can do anything I want. I can have lunch with my friends, spend time with my grandchildren or just chill out.”

Sheldon Wood, 48, who writes property tax software, plans on using his three-day weekends to go into the mountains to hike and bike with his wife, also a state employee.

So, with the governor’s mealy-mouthed justification exposed as the nonsense anyone would instinctively recognise as political poop out of the way, we need to know if this is really good. I think most people enjoy more days off in a row, even if the hours work out the same.

The ministry of finance has started Thailand’s first serious programme of work-at-home for its research department, which is not a four-day week by any stretch. But it is a sign that employers should open up to the concept of working hours that are friendly to the workers as well as to the business, even if that business is government.

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