With gas prices racing past $4 a gallon creating an unprecedented burden on many workers, on June 26, Gov. Jon Huntsman announced the Working 4 Utah initiative. Beginning in August, state government service hours will be extended from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. State administrative offices will be closed on Fridays, with the exception of essential public services.
“We live in a dynamic, ever-changing environment and it’s crucial that we take a serious look at how we can adapt and maintain our state’s unparalleled quality of life,” said Huntsman in a statement about the program.
Huntsman’s office estimates that 1,000 of 3,000 state buildings will be closed on Fridays, cutting energy costs by about 20 percent.
It’s only a matter of time before other state governments follow in Utah’s footsteps, says Susan Seitel, president of WFC Resources, a Minnetonka, Minnesota-based consulting firm.
“Minnesota is looking at this too,” she says. “This is absolutely the beginning of a trend.”
Many state governments, as well as companies, recognize that moving to a four-day workweek not only helps save energy costs but also appeals to younger workers, she says.
Utah will evaluate the initiative for a year to allow for adjustments in the future.