Pitkin County work week still five days | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County work week still five days

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Pitkin County government will continue doing business five days a week as usual for the time being.

County commissioners asked staffers last year to assess the cost savings to be gained from a four-day work week. The savings aren’t huge, commissioners learned Tuesday.

Though they weren’t willing to shelve the idea entirely, commissioners agreed they’re in no hurry to push it through, either.

By compressing the work week to four days ” employees would work four 10-hour days, for example, rather than five eight-hour days ” it’s possible the county could shut down entire buildings three days a week instead of only on Saturday and Sunday. The courthouse annex, Health and Social Services and Public Works buildings were identified as likely candidates.

The total savings in electricity, natural gas and water would total about $14,531 annually. In addition, commuting employees could save some $93,000 annually in gasoline costs, according to a report to commissioners.

There are plenty of pros and cons to the approach, which municipalities, counties and school districts across the country have implemented to save on building costs, commissioners were told.

“I’ve got some pretty mixed reactions from staff,” said County Manager Hilary Fletcher. Arranging child care for a 10-hour day is a challenge for some; others are facing long commutes on top of a 10-hour day.

Commissioner Rachel Richards pondered the impact on workers’ productivity.

“How badly do people start to lag in the last two hours of a 10-hour day?” she mused. “I’d be the first to say I’m not in a hurry to implement anything.”

Commissioner Michael Owsley suggested the four-day week would only make sense if other entities in the community, like the school district, did likewise.

“Otherwise, we’re just disrupting the community,” he said.

The impact to the public if some county offices had longer office hours four days a week, but were closed entirely on one work day each week ” likely on Monday or Friday ” has not been gauged, said Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill. Vos Caudill studied the proposal with Laura Laubhan, human resources manager for the county.

A survey of the county’s 25 departments, which employ a total of 246 people, suggested the work force is all over the board on the idea, Laubhan said. Discussing it did lead to more flexibility in work schedules, though, she said.

“I think more departments did go back and allow people flexible hours, flexible schedules. Some people are doing the four-day work week,” Laubhan said.

In addition, some county employees work from home on certain days.

Commissioners suggested revisiting the idea in six months.