Morgantown city offices to transition to focused four-day workweek

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UPDATE (MAY 21, 2020 5:10 p.m.):

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The City of Morgantown will begin a focused four-day workweek pilot program for most of its employees beginning on July 6, according to a release from city officials.

The release stated that employees who are participating in the pilot program will work four 10-hour days each week, from 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Officials said that city administrative offices will be closed on Fridays.

”Over the last two months, two things have become increasingly apparent,” said Interim City Manager Emily Muzzarelli. “The first is just how important it is to spend time with family. The second is that there is always room for improvement in how we provide services to our customers. By transitioning our schedules during this pilot program, we can provide extended hours to residents, businesses, and contractors while allowing our employees to spend more time at home with their families.”

The release stated that for the past several months, city administration has conducted research on the focused workweek. Officials said that staff members contacted other municipalities that operate on the four-day schedule to find out why they transitioned, what were the benefits and challenges, and if the transition was successful. City employees were also asked to take part in a survey which was used to identify potential benefits and challenges for each department, according to the release.

Officials said that the idea of a focused workweek was brought forward by city staff as a way to save costs, improve employee productivity and help create a better work/life balance in employees’ lives.

Additionally, the release noted that there is no cost to the city to conduct the pilot program.

In an over-the-phone interview, Muzzarelli said the City had surveyed participating employees and roughly 70 percent of them felt positive about the pilot program. She said the additional 30 percent were either unsure or against the idea.

The release noted that citizens will also be able to benefit from the focused workweek through improved customer service. City buildings will be open longer for public access Monday through Thursday, meaning that citizens will be able to conduct business with the city outside of regular work hours, according to the release.

The focused workweek pilot program has been set for an initial one-year trial. After beginning on July 6, 2020 and end, if not extended or modified, by June 30, 2021. Officials explained that the program will be evaluated throughout the year to determine if it should remain permanent.

Emily Muzzarelli

We will be closely monitoring this program both internally from an employee standpoint. Do they actually like it, do they feel like they’re able to get their hours done? On a managerial level, do they feel their efficiency has increased, or is it the same as it was, or has there been some sort of loss of productivity? We’ll be looking at the exact cost savings, has there been a realized saving in utility? And then, we will be working with the public, the people who we do our business with. Do they enjoy the longer hours, is it an inconvenience that we are no longer open on Fridays? And just trying to take a holistic approach to really assess if it is worth moving forward with on a permanent basis.

Emily Muzzarelli, Interim City Manager

The release explained that the program will affect employees in Code Enforcement, Finance, Municipal Court, Information Technology, Arts and Culture, Human Resources, City Clerk, Development Services, Engineering, Communications, Urban Landscape, Public Works, City Manager’s Office, and the administrative offices for the Morgantown Police Department and BOPARC.

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