Friday, January 30, 2009

Hailey’s four-day workweek gets mixed results

Hailey public works director says experiment with four 10-hour workdays boosts productivity

Express Staff Writer

Last summer, when the price of gas hit $4 per gallon, the city of Hailey responded by giving Public Works Department employees an option that could save them the cost of commuting one day each week. It was also hoped that the city could save on its "carbon footprint."

Four 10-hour-long workdays were implemented for 18 Public Works Department employees in June. Since that time, the employees have been getting to work an hour earlier and leaving an hour later each day. The big bonus is that they have also been enjoying three-day weekends.

City employees have reported mixed feelings about the new work schedule. However, Hailey Public Works Director Tom Hellen called the shorter workweeks a success.

"The experiment has gone really well," he said. "We have a fair amount of personnel commuting from Shoshone, Twin Falls and elsewhere. This gives them more time to get things done on Fridays, like dentist's appointments or home projects. The energy savings have not been that much for the city, but it has been good for morale."

Hellen said he is getting more productivity out of employees during 10-hour workdays than from eight-hour workdays.

"People are able to focus for longer periods of time on projects," he said.

On Wednesday, however, the city released reports from un-named Public Works department employees on the pros and cons of the new workweek schedule.

Some reported having difficulty getting things done at home in the evening and fitting in a daily exercise routine. Others said it saved money on child daycare, increased productivity and allowed for increased weekend recreation.

Hailey's Water and Wastewater departments have an on-duty person who works Tuesday through Friday and on call through the weekend. Street Department employees work Monday through Thursday from 7a.m. to 6 p.m. with an on-call employee for the remainder of the week and weekend.

The Hailey Police Department switched to four-day workweeks 12 years ago.

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