June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Engineering and Public Policy
15.438.1 - 15.438.14
Educational Operations Four Days a Week
Four day work weeks have been employed by industry, state agencies, and recently by higher education. The generally perceived benefit of the four day work week is reduced energy costs. These costs savings include more efficient building operations and less energy consumption driving to a facility. The generally perceived negative impact of four day operations, particularly of state agencies, is a decreased level of service.
How much energy would be saved and could the level of service be maintained in a higher educational environment by switching from five to four day weeks? This study occurs at a regional university within an Industrial and Engineering Technology department that has exclusive use of a building. The department contains seven degree programs ranging from TAC- ABET programs to non-accredited technical degree programs. During the study period all classes and laboratories were scheduled Monday through Thursday. Staff only worked Monday through Thursday. Faculty but not students could gain access to the building on Fridays.
The objective of this paper is to study the costs, benefits, and educational impacts of changing the five day academic and building availability week to four days a week. The paper will present the costs savings and the results of a survey of stakeholders collected during one academic quarter. The results of the energy costs are presented in tabular form and the results of the survey are presented in graphical form. The data and conclusions are expected to help decision makers make informed decisions when contemplating an alternative work schedule for higher education.
Existing Work Schedule Practices
Four day work weeks are not a new practice, however very little has been written or studied about the affects of this practice1. Additionally until recently the concept of some type of alternative work schedule has not been widely accepted2. The objective of this study was to study the effects of changing the academic work week from five to four days.
Flexible or alternative work schedules can take the form of a compressed work week, flexible hours, or telecommuting. A compressed work week is generally working four, ten hour days, four days a week or nine hours a day with every other week only being four instead of five work days. The typical university works on a five day work week, although classes may only be scheduled four days a week, buildings and services are available five days a week. Flexible hours generally allow workers to come and go and work at variable times, with generally a core period of time everyone is expected to be at the office. This is generally how university faculty work, schedules are flexible but classes are generally fixed between certain hours, however classes are normally scheduled all five days of the week. Telecommuting allows workers to work certain days of the week from home. With online classes becoming more common, some traditional face to face university learning is being shifted to “telecommuting” type of working and learning.
Pringle, C., & Bender, W. (2010, June), Educational Operations Four Days A Week Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15794
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