Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Leading the World in Working Less!

Four-day work week gets A+ at college

By John ZarrellaCNN's American Morning

COCOA, Florida (CNN) -- Ask just about any college student and they'll tell you they'd jump through hoops to avoid taking a class that meets on Fridays. (or, they'll just sign up and skip it every Friday. I don't think students are that creative)

So, it was welcome news to students when Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Florida, decided to experiment with a four-day work week. (how is being a student also being a member of the workforce? "work"week?!? WTF?) A year ago as energy costs headed up and the school faced cuts in state funding, college president James Drake, who drives a hybrid, (the HELL you say! Veeeeery important information to include, however....) decided to give the shortened work week a try.

It worked out better than anyone could have imagined, Drake says. (well, what the fuck do you expect him to say? "My idea sucked. I should be removed from office."??)

"If it weren't for the savings that we have netted from energy management and the four-day work week, we would not have been able to do several of the vital things that are going to help us attract and retain even more students," says Drake (with a straight face...)

Brevard Community College began the four-day work week during the 2007 summer session. The following fall and spring they added a half-day but then went back to the four-day work week again this summer. (Thus, preparing them for a the real world, where international and domestic business is only done four days a week. Totally brilliant.)

Over that year-long period, by closing on Fridays and turning down the air conditioning and heating systems -- the college saved $267,000 in energy costs. The savings allowed Brevard to hire 10 new full-time faculty members. "It was a great thing for me because I became a full-time faculty (for, at least, a year until energy costs come down...)" says Betty Blaschak.

Blaschak teaches at Brevard's cosmetology school where scissors and combs are moving a mile a minute as students learn how to style hair. (thanks for explaining what cosmetology school is)

Brooke Stile is one of the those students and taking classes four days a week instead of five makes a huge difference to her. "The fact that I have that day, that one day, it's just so much nicer and I just don't have to drive all that way to Cocoa," said Stile.

Stile, who is a single mom, saves a 50-mile roundtrip with the four days of classes. She spends the extra day with her son which means one less day she has to pay for child care. (with whose money? I'm doing some math: single mom + full-time student?) She says she can also get more done.

"The bank is only open till noon on Saturdays so instead of doing it on Saturdays, I can do it on Fridays (or, any other day of the week, or online, or at an ATM, or at 7am on Saturday....OR, the school could have normal hours and you'd get home before the bank closes....oh, wait.)," says Stile. "And go grocery shopping and there's not going to be a lot of people there." (Case. Closed. Four-day work week is a success!)

Evers, who drives nearly 100 miles a day from Orlando, Florida, to take a biology class at Brevard, (100 miles?!? Listen, I'm sure Brevard is a fine junior college, but, I'll wager there are a few more colleges that offer biology) saves gas and says the Friday off, is a win-win.

"I get an extra day to go to work and I have an extra day to study (PAAAARTYYY!!!)," says Evers.

The four-day work week at Brevard has yielded even more positive results: There's been a 44 percent reduction in staff turnover, according to Drake.

"We have had a 50 percent increase in applications for employment during the same period this year as apposed to last year," says Drake. (Can't figure that one out. I doubt there's any white trash applying for that gig - "Uh, excuse me, y'all. Kin y'all tell me where I kin sign up fir the job where y'all don't hafta go to work all the time?)

Mili Torres, the director of enrollment at the Cocoa campus says her staff rarely misses work.
"Absenteeism has actually gone away almost in my department, (except on Fridays) " says Torres.
However, the longer work days of a four-day work week has created some problems for people who need child care. For them the school provides flex scheduling, which allows staff to come in and leave either earlier or later depending on what is convenient.

Drake says he often receives calls from other colleges and universities wanting to know how it's working. (Hard to believe that any college presidents and professors would want to work less isn't it?) It's working so well that when the fall semester begins, Brevard Community College will shift to a year-round four-day work week.

Across the country, businesses, institutions and even one state (lemme guess....Hawaii?...yep! http://www.groundreport.com/US/Hawaii-Considers-Four-Day-Workweek) are considering or have moved to a four-day work week.

Donetta Pritchard, who lives in Utah, has been commuting 100 miles a day (is there ANYthing within 99 miles for these fucking people?!?) for the past 14 years. Today she's leaving the roads a little less traveled.

In Utah, the state government has just gone into its second week of shutting down 1,000 buildings on Fridays. The state believes it can save $3 million by moving to a four-day work week. But just as important as the savings is how employees are affected.

But while the change has been a welcome relief to some workers, it's created hardships for others. (no. way. Won't hear it. Working less is foolproof)

Mylitta Barrett, a single mother, (is it something in the water?) says the switch means she spends less time with her three sons. Barrett now needs a sitter in the mornings to care for her severely disabled son, Joseph, until his bus comes and says she has less time for her other boys as well. (thanks for leaving me with this, Hubby.....ya' think you could step it up a notch?)

"You can't make up the soccer game that I missed on Monday because you were working and didn't get home until seven o'clock at night," (ah HA! Pronoun trouble....) Barrett says.

After 15 years with the state, she says she depends on the medical coverage and can't consider quitting. (Ah, the American dream...)

"I don't like being thrown in this position where my life is going to get more difficult because of energy savings or whatever reason they decided to do this," Barrett says. (didn't you hear?!? They hired ten more people, it's a win-win, and that one chick can do her banking on Fridays!!! Shut the fuck up, Mylitta!)

But Barrett says she knows hers is an extreme situation and that her supervisors are being as flexible as they can. (Wow.....I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Mylitta doesn't make much of a fuss at work. What'd'ya think?)

Whether the four-day work week will prove to be just a short-term solution to rising energy costs or is here to stay, only time will tell. (Time's up.)

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