4-day workweek needs more studying


POSTED: Sunday, April 19, 2009

Question: What ever happened to the four-day workweek pilot project undertaken by the state last year?

Answer: The state implemented two such pilot projects in the second half of last year, and a report on their effectiveness is expected sometime after the end of the legislative session, said Marie Laderta, director of the state Department of Human Resources Development.

Laderta said she could not release specific details, but said the report will recommend that a longer, more expansive project be undertaken to determine the effectiveness of a four-day workweek for all state agencies.

“;We were too small and the time was too limited to make a full determination,”; Laderta said.

The first pilot project was for Laderta's department, which has 111 employees, and was conducted from Aug. 4 through Oct. 31. A second pilot project was instituted for 269 workers at the Department of Health's Kinau Hale building from Oct. 13 through Dec. 5.

Both programs involved expanded hours for services Monday through Thursday with the two departments being closed on Fridays.

The projects were aimed at exploring, among other things, whether the state could save money on electricity and help reduce traffic during peak commute times.

Laderta said the two departments saw improvement in both areas, based on feedback from employees.

“;I would conclude that with respect to the pilots, it was successful for both,”; she said.

Whether it would be feasible for the state to switch over to the four-day system completely would require a more extensive project lasting about a year and with several departments, she added.

“;A longer pilot project involving more employees would give us the opportunity to address and resolve more issues, such as holiday work schedules, sustaining employee accommodations, staffing during public-service hours, employee safety and security,”; Laderta said. “;It would give us a better idea.”;

Expanding shifts to 10 hours and eliminating work on Fridays is seen as a way to get cars off the road and save commuters a day of sitting in traffic. Such changes also are expected to reduce costs for government by cutting electric bills and costs for fueling state vehicle fleets.