PRESCOTT, AZ – Yavapai County Public Works Director Phil Bourdon's four-day workweek and energy conservation plan is saving fuel and electricity as he expected, but generated an unexpected side effect — a boost in employee morale, according to the Daily Courier.

Employee acceptance and support has significantly contributed to the success of the plan approved in August 2008. With the new schedule, Public Works is open to the public 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Public Works' road crews already were working in four, 10-hour shifts - Monday through Thursday and Tuesday through Friday.

Closing the building one day each week amounts to about four days a month — almost an entire workweek of energy costs saved.

As part of energy conservation, Bourdon installed programmable digital thermostats in the department's Prescott and Verde Valley offices. Technicians programmed the thermostats for different daytime, nighttime, and weekend temperatures.

Bourdon compared kilowatt-hours used during a six-month period in 2007-08 to the same six-month period in 2008-09. He calculated a 26.5 percent decrease in electricity use in the Prescott office. The Verde Valley office showed an 18.48 percent decrease.

During the same six-month period, Bourdon said vehicle fuel consumption decreased more than 13 percent for unleaded gas and nine percent for diesel fuel - which he attributes to employee carpooling on field trips.

"This is a huge county, and you have people working an extra two hours a day instead of spending that time driving somewhere," Tim Stotler, assistant county engineer said.

For employees that need a county vehicle on Fridays, Fleet Manager Dave Gartner stored vehicle keys in outdoor lock boxes.

"They call us and we give them the code to the box, and they sign it out just like they normally do," he explained. "It is working out very well."

After Bourdon notified employees about the new work schedule, some parents expressed concern about a longer workday interfering with picking up children. However, individual departments have flexibility to adjust an employee's schedule for school hours, allowing parents to come in earlier and take time off in the afternoon, said Stotler.

Though the four-day schedule took some adjustment, the three-day weekend offers employee more time to attend to their personal lives.