Utah closes government buildings on Fridays, moves to four-day work week

Gov. Jon Huntsman says the change will help Utah reach its goal of reducing energy use 20% by 2015. In government offices, turning off the lights, heat, and air conditioning on Fridays in 1,000 of 3,000 government buildings will save about $3 million a year. The year-long experiment begins Aug. 4.


In a yearlong experiment aimed at reducing the state’s energy costs and commuters’ gasoline expenses, Utah is about to become the first state to mandate a four-day work week for thousands of government employees.


The order, issued by Gov. Jon Huntsman, will affect about 17,000 out of 24,000 executive-branch employees. It will not cover police officers, prison guards, or employees of the courts and Utah’s public schools. State-run liquor stores also will stay open on Fridays.


The new schedule starts Aug. 4. In the meantime, Huntsman said, the state is moving to iron out problems for employees with child-care concerns and those using public transportation that currently would not accommodate a longer workday.


Huntsman says the change will help Utah reach its goal of reducing energy use 20% by 2015. Turning off the lights, heat, and air conditioning on Fridays in 1,000 of 3,000 government buildings will save about $3 million a year out of a state budget of $11 billion, the governor’s spokeswoman, Lisa Roskelley, said. The state also will save on gasoline used by official vehicles, but authorities have not calculated the cost.


The Dept. of Environmental Quality estimated that employees in sick buildings will save more than $300,000 spent on gas to commute to work.


The four-day work week also is good for the environment.


"We feel like we can reduce the CO 2 or the ozone by around over 3,000 metric tons, as well as have an impact on our air pollution," said Kim Hood, executive director of the Dept. of Administrative Services.


Although state offices will be closed on Fridays and save energy costs, many Utah state offices will extend their hours and stay open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday.


State workers will put in 10-hour days, Monday through Thursday. They will be paid the same.


Leslie Scott, executive director of the National Assn. of State Personnel Directors, said Huntsman's action is a first. "Most states have a four-day work week option for their employees, but Utah is the first to go to a mandatory four-day work week," she said. "A good number of the states are encouraging their agencies and managers to offer a four-day work week whenever possible."


The four-day work week is fairly common among city and county governments. Rex Facer, an assistant professor at Brigham Young University whose research team is studying the four-day work week concept, estimates that about one-sixth of U.S. cities with populations above 25,000 offer employees a four-day work week. His projection is based on the team's continuing survey of 150 city human resource directors.


Facer expects more cities to begin shuttering offices on Fridays. "The increasing pressures the American is facing around gas prices is certainly a significant factor, and the overall fiscal pressures governments are facing in general," he said.


Jacqueline Byers, director of research at the National Assn. of Counties, says the four-day work week is gaining in popularity among county governments. Marion County, Fla., has a mandatory four-day work week for employees; Oconee County, S.C., and Walworth County, Wis., have it for road work crews, while Will County, Ill., has it for the auditor's office. Oakland County, Mich., is seeking volunteers for a four-day work week, and Miami-Dade County, Fla., and Suffolk County, N.Y., are moving toward it, she said.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.