The Dernogalizer

September 1, 2009

Four Day Workweek Column

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:35 am
Tags: , , ,

I have a column out on the benefits of a four day workweek, from a fiscal, energy, and environmental standpoint.  Enjoy!

Shortened work weeks: Take a day off

It must be tough being Gov. Martin O’Malley right now. He recently announced $454 million in budget cuts to address a $700 million budget shortfall. Not much there will win him a popularity contest. I have a way to cut costs and please everyone. Not magic — the four-day workweek!

Normally I wouldn’t suggest modeling anything after Utah, home to fundamentalist polygamists and Gary Coleman, but they’ve got the most successful four-day workweek program in the country. For a year, about 17,000 of the state’s 24,000 executive branch employees have been working 10 hours a day, four days a week. The result of having most of the electronics, heating and cooling turned off on Friday has been a 13-percent reduction in the government’s energy usage and $3 million in anticipated savings.

I’m not sure if our state employees are drinking the same water (if that’s what they’re drinking) as the Utah folks, but Utah’s workers love the four-day workweek. For one, it saves them money on their commute. By not having to drive on Friday, the state is estimating employees will save $5 to 6 million dollars yearly. At the same time, state employees are reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 12,000 metric tons.

The program is so popular that in order to keep it on track for meeting energy-saving goals, employees are modifying their behavior by turning off electronics and lighting when they are unnecessary. At the same time, workers find it easier to spend time with their families when they have three-day weekends, and they have no need to pay for child care on Friday. Overall in Utah, 82 percent of their workers prefer to keep the four-day workweek. It sure beats getting furloughed.

On top of the cost savings, Maryland could be an example for other governments. The last time the four-day workweek was seriously considered nationwide was in the 1970s during the oil embargo. It was seen as a way to save on oil. Can you imagine the effect of a nationwide four-day workweek for the vast majority of jobs? There would be an incredible reduction in miles driven, less congestion and faster commute times for those on the roads. We would reduce our oil dependence by millions of barrels every week. I can’t think of a way to more immediately reduce oil consumption and pollution so dramatically at no cost.

The university has an energy bill of about $50 million a year. Assuming we can’t beat the Utah government at their own game, a 13-percent reduction would save us at least $6.5 million a year. That’s not chump change.

The four-day workweek might not solve all our problems, but for all governments, institutions and businesses looking for innovative ways to save money without causing pain to existing programs or raising taxes and tuition, here is your no-brainer.

Matt Dernoga is a senior government and politics major. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com


  1. Great article. Once you look at all the benefits of a four day work week, there’s really no argument against it. I know it’d help me out a lot!


    Comment by Rick — September 1, 2009 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

    • thanks!

      Comment by Matt Dernoga — September 1, 2009 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

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