Four-day work week returns to Northern Michigan University next summer

Hannah Fermanich

NMU has decided to operate on a 4-10 work schedule in the 2012 summer semester.

With the 4-10 work week schedule, starting in May and ending in mid-August, the campus will be closed Friday through Sunday to cut down on operation costs.

The 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours will be changed to 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

As of right now, the library is reviewing their operating hours for the  summer semester. A change in hours might occur depending on the use records from last year.

“We initially estimated a savings of about $50,000 when we actually saved closer to $90,000 last summer,” said Cindy Paavola, director of communications and marketing.

The change was first used last summer to make budget cuts without impacting NMU staff and faculty through layoffs.

By closing the campus for longer blocks of time, the energy savings is larger than just closing the facilities for a day or two at a time, Paavola said.

“The overwhelming majority of those who liked the 4-10 work week identified the advantages of three-day weekends, savings on personal expenses like gas and daycare, and being able to accomplish larger-scale projects,” said Ann Sherman, director of Human Resources and equal opportunity officer.

According to Paavola, the change in business hours varies depending on each department’s needs, offering flexibility for staff and faculty in which hours they wish to work.

For example, staff members whose jobs mainly involve working with computers may opt to work from home on Fridays if Northern chooses to continue with the original 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule.

“Since the amount of hours worked in the week is the same as an eight to five schedule, there should not be a significant effect on students, other than those who may be unaware of the change and are seeking services on Fridays,” Sherman said.

Due to the early planning for the summer semester this year, the university hopes to have time to work out possible scheduling and delivery complications that occurred in the last summer.

Maintaining lab temperatures, scheduling issues with summer orientation and deliveries scheduled for Fridays were all major issues that the university hopes to avoid this year, Paavola said.

As of right now, the university has no intentions of implementing this schedule year-round. By implementing the 4-10 schedule for a second summer, they hope to learn more about if the energy savings are weather-related or if there are other factors that come into play.

“Although a number of survey respondents would be in favor of a year-round 4-10 schedule, scheduling the number of classes required during the regular academic year makes a 4-10 work week difficult, as does the student demand for services,” Sherman said.

The 4-10 work week schedule will start in May 2012 and continue until mid-August.