The Agilist Network

Tales and Tips from Agile Software Projects

A Greener Work Week

Posted by kenhoward on June 3, 2008

Green this, green that…it’s the buzz these days. So let’s get real, how about a greener work week? During the first dozen years of my working life, I had the benefit of working for a forwarding thinking company that had a 4-day work week, or as we like to refer to it: 3-day weekends. If the majority of companies were to adopt the 4-day work week, the impact to the environment and the economy is staggering.

For illustration, let’s say ACME employs 10,000 employees at it’s various offices. Each employee commutes an average of 15 miles each way and drives a car which gets an average of 20 mpg. Based on $4/gallon, the savings is $300 per employee per year, and $3,000,000 for the company’s entire workforce. I realize that employees may choose to drive on their day off, which offsets the savings, however, that expense becomes a choice rather than a necessity. Scaling up that idea, if 100 Million people (or less than 1/3 of the U.S. Population) eliminated one commute per week, the combined reduction is 150 million gallons of gas per week! That equals a $32 Billion reduction in gas consumption per year. Imagine what that could do to the supply/demand curve that causes the price of gas! Imagine the reduction in emissions, traffic congestion, accidents, injuries, commuting angst, yada, yada…

So back to the 4-day work week. If you’re concerned that it makes slackers out of us, consider this: Companies that adopt a 4-day work week gain a week and a half of work days per employee each year. How? Employees work 40 hours every week, including holiday weeks. So if Friday is your normal day off and there’s a holiday on Monday, you would be off on the holiday but would work Friday that week. Employees tend not to complain on those weeks because they get to enjoy a 3-day weekend every week of the year. Thuse, company gains 8 working days per year from every employee.

Additionally, those companies that put all employees on the same 4-day work week can reduce power consumption and costs by shifting to a weekend HVAC profile on one additional day each week. For companies that must have employees present 5 days a week, rotating the extra day off can reduce the need for parking and office space if managed smartly.

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