RBC discusses four-day work week

RBC I Rio Blanco County elected officials, department heads and staff members last week received a presentation on moving to a four-day work week. Legal Assistant Vicky Edwards led the presentation, noting that the shift was still hypothetical.

Most county departments would switch to a Monday-Thursday work schedule, apart from the Sheriff’s Office, Dispatch, Detentions, District Court, and Road and Bridge. Departments like IT, DHS and Emergency Management would still need to have employees on call during off days for “24/7 coverage.”

Potential benefits could include better work/life balance for employees, the opportunity for longer service hours for people who work on weekdays and cost savings. Employee surveys of most county departments indicated that 92% of employees were either “highly interested” or “somewhat interested” in switching to the four-day work week. The majority of employees also said they’d prefer to work four 10-hour days, though some said they’d prefer four eight- or nine-hour days. Budget and Finance Director Janae Stansworth estimated fewer hours for employees could save the county around $38,000 a year. While many employees expressed positive feelings about the idea, some shared concerns about finding childcare in the mornings and afternoons during the longer workdays. Others had misgivings about worker productivity during longer days. Employee suggestions for the proposed implementation included setting the same hours for all departments, allowing employees to work remotely, and offering solutions for childcare in the morning and after school.

Estimated cost savings for reduced facility usage is around $2,100 in the first year. Facilities Director Eric Jaquez said the low number is due to the fact that the county’s newer building is already very energy efficient. Implementation could start as early as Oct. 4, 2021, with evaluations of success to occur every three months.

Commissioners Gary Moyer and Jeff Rector said the current work hours for county employees were not being complied with across the board, and noted that “would have to be fixed” if the county were to implement a four-day work week. Moyer also described the change as more of a benefit for employee retention than as a cost-saving measure. Vicky Edwards pointed out that retention saves costs on training. 

Commissioner Ty Gates suggested doing a public survey to get taxpayers’ input on the idea. He also noted that Public Health has programs requiring five-day work weeks, and reiterated the change is not about cost-savings but rather a benefit for employees. The board highlighted that employees seem to overwhelmingly favor a four-day work week, and agreed to push out a community survey to get taxpayer input.

You can view the entire presentation at on Rio Blanco County’s Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p-l0z4ljwM&ab

By LUCAS TURNER | lucas@ht1885.com