11/21/08 — County might add 4-day workweek for departments

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County might add 4-day workweek for departments

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 21, 2008 1:53 PM

Wayne County's 5-month-old experiment with a four-day workweek for most county offices could expand in mid-January to encompass all county offices.

County Manager Lee Smith said this week that will be his recommendation to county commissioners next month.

Currently, most county offices are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closed on Friday.

The landfill and convenience centers are closed on Wednesday. The landfill is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and convenience centers from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. That schedule would not change.

The Sheriff's Office, courthouse, county administrative building and animal control remain on a five-day workweek.

The Sheriff's Office would not change to the four-day schedule.

"The only thing we'd really have to deal with would be courts," Smith said. "We'd have to have security here and a very small skeleton crew for buildings and grounds or facilities services since people would be using restrooms, but the other offices would be closed."

Most county offices switched to the four-day week in August as a way to trim energy costs and save money.

Employees work four 10-hour days.

"The production and casework we have seen across the county is better," Smith said. "I think it has mandated that our supervisors be better supervisors. I think they are watching the time and hours of employees more and it is making them more aware of what is getting done and what isn't getting done.

"I am extremely pleased, and if you asked me if there is a downside to the four-day workweek, I'd be hard pressed to give you some because I don't have any."

Some employees initially voiced concerns that the longer day would create problems with daycare. Employees were allowed flexible schedules to handle daycare.

A committee of county employees looked at the possibility of a county daycare, but ultimately decided that one was not needed since most of the issues had been resolved. The door to such an operation was left open.

Smith said his plan to expand the four-day workweek is based on preliminary data concerning Friday workloads in the inspections, tax and register of deeds offices

"We have been watching the tax and register of deeds offices and our customer base on these days is little or any," he said.

As for inspections, Smith said it appears most builders' work is handled Monday through Thursday.

Smith said he decided against starting the expansion on Jan. 1 for several reasons.

First, the county offices will be closed Dec. 22-26 for Christmas and taxes are due the following week, Smith said.

"We want to get through that time and not confuse folks," he said. "That (first week in January) will be a very busy week."

For Smith, converting all county offices to the four-day workweek is another example of the county trying to do more and more to find ways to conserve energy.

Months ago, commissioners adopted an idling policy for county-owned vehicles. More recently, county employees have been told to turn off lights if they are going to be out of their offices.

Next will be a systemwide computer setup that will put computers on a power-savings setting if they are idle for a certain period of time.

Smith said idling computers and cutting off an office light might not sound like much, but that 1,000 computers and a 1,000 lights "add up."

Placing laptop computers in the vehicles of county inspectors also is one more piece of the puzzle, he said.

The laptops allow inspectors to enter real-time data into the county system without having to come back to the office. It is designed to cut down on travel to and from the office and to increase fuel efficiency and time management.