BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Four-day workweeks are growing in Utah once again, but this time they’re hybrid

May 26, 2023, 2:00 PM

A new Washington Post-Ipsos poll shows that 75% of workers would prefer a 10-hour, four-day workwee...

A new Washington Post-Ipsos poll shows that 75% of workers would prefer a 10-hour, four-day workweek rather than the common 8-hour, five-day workweek.(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

SALT LAKE— Three-day weekends could be in the future for Utah’s state workers as hybrid work and staggered schedules are becoming more common.

A new Washington Post-Ipsos poll shows that 75% of workers would prefer a 10-hour, four-day workweek rather than the common 8-hour, five-day workweek.

Utah implemented a 4-day workweek experiment that was not made permanent. But now, state agencies are starting to use increasingly popular hybrid, staggered schedules which provide workers with more flexibility, consolidate resources, and cut costs.

Utah’s history with a four-day workweek

In 2008, former Utah governor John Huntsman launched a 10-hour four-day workweek experiment to try to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and preserve energy.

A legislative audit in 2010 revealed that the program was not saving as much money as the government hoped for.

Lawmakers scrapped the state worker’s four-day, 10-hour workweek in September 2011.

“Basically because it just didn’t save the money that they hoped. And then also because residents were complaining that they didn’t have access to services on Fridays,” says Jennifer Weaver, communications director for the Utah Dept of Government Operations.

Because the four-day workweek didn’t work for the state, agencies started implementing their own schedules.

Hybrid, Staggered workweeks

Now, many Utah state agencies have started using a mix of hybrid work and staggered schedules for their employees.

“We’re finding success as a state with teleworking,” says Weaver.

Utah was one of the first states to implement online working. By mixing teleworking with staggered schedules, many workers are allowed to work 4-days while still maintaining normal operational hours for Utah citizens.

Weaver explains that, “agencies actually do have some flexibility. So they can do kind of a mix and still have a semblance of the 4/10 workweek… staggering their employee’s schedules.”

An example of a staggered workweek could be some staff working 10 hours/day Monday – Thursday, and others with 10-hour shifts Tuesday – Friday.

Four-day workweeks becoming more common

When asked if four-day workweeks could become common state-wide, Weaver said, “I think it already is happening state-wide with the government departments and divisions and offices.”

Hybrid working and staggered schedules save more money by allowing government offices to sell their leases and consolidate buildings. This has helped bring the savings the government was initially looking for by implementing 4/10 workweeks.

“We’ve found that that is way more successful, and our employees really like it,” explains Weaver.

It’s a system Weaver has found is beneficial for citizens and employees alike.

“I think Utahns are really gravitating toward flexibility, not necessarily the 4/10 workweek.”

By working hybrid and staggering schedules, employees get beneficial 3-day weekends while citizens continue to have full-week service.

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Four-day workweeks are growing in Utah once again, but this time they’re hybrid