There’s a buzz circulating on campus about “four-tens”—four-day work weeks of ten-hour days. The worst of the rumors suggest it’s a done deal, due to start any day now, and that has some people scrambling for information.
This all stems from rising energy costs. Just like most of us have experienced at home, UTMB’s energy costs are on the rise. UTMB will spend an estimated $31 million(!) in FY 08 for electricity and natural gas.
There was a question at the Town Hall meeting on July 28 about energy costs. As part of Dr. Callender’s response, he mentioned a desire for exploring some creative approaches to addressing the issue, one being the possibility of some areas working a shorter work week (with the idea being that certain buildings—or large parts of them—could be shut down to save on cooling and electricity). Facilities and Operations is conducting a pilot, and Dr. Callender suggested if it could be done in the Administration Building, it would be a good example for the rest of campus.
So it’s true that there are some ongoing discussions and studies, but there are also some challenges. Thinking across our research, clinical care and education missions, there are areas where it’s not ever going to be feasible to shut down for a day (think of the hospitals, TDCJ, the animal care folks, police, many key support areas, etc.). And while it’ll save many employees some commuting costs, there’d be challenges for some of us as well, things like daycare for kids, vanpools or carpooling, pets that need letting out. Obstacles aside, most of the people I’ve spoken to think it’s a good idea worthy of consideration, hence the enthusiasm.
So, stay tuned, but don’t start making plans for a four-day week just yet. You can hear exactly what Dr. Callender said on the replay of the Town Hall meeting, online at http://www.utmb.edu/townhall/ (If you advance to the 48:50 minute mark, you can hear him talk specifically about this topic).
I’d love to see it happen and to see it work. What about you?