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TGI Thursday
Author: Eric Gold
Posted: February 1, 2010

CLOSING ON FRIDAYS: Will it work for employees? Will it work for the community? Clackamas County government officials turned to professor Masami Nishishiba for answers.

In November 2008 the county launched a one-year experiment that required some of its employees to work 10-hour days, taking Fridays off. Similar four-day workweek programs are in place around the country, most notably in the entire state government of Utah. Nishishiba, who specializes in the study of local governments, was asked to evaluate the pilot program, which involved about 828 of the county's 1,800 workers.

Nishishiba and four master's students in the Hatfield School of Government conducted focus groups, surveyed employees, and interviewed Clackamas County job applicants and ordinary citizens. The team found that most employees liked the change, as did job applicants. Only 19 percent of county citizens surveyed found the change inconvenient.

The county initially tried the shortened workweek to save money on energy and fuel costs but found the program also resulted in significant savings in overtime and comp time costs, with a total net savings of $456,000 during the year. The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners has decided to continue the program indefinitely, and Nishishiba has submitted a grant proposal to study similar programs elsewhere.