Earlier this week, I discussed the state’s telecommuting practices amid requests from some politicians to expand the state’s telecommuting programs. In perhaps a slow week for news, the Hartford Courant has continued to followup on its articles and expanded its coverage into discussing the possibility of four-day work weeks — something Utah is implementing.
But both ideas – widespread telecommuting and four-day work weeks — for state workers appear long shots right now with bi-partisan (but not unanimous) support for maintaining the current system.
Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell discussed the idea of four-day work-weeks for state workers:
I talk about state employees as public servants, and that’s exactly what they are. And the public expects them to be there five days a week, whether you’re getting a fishing license or you’re getting a permit for a storm-water system in a town. You can’t do those things from home. You have to be there physically to greet the person and take the information. Some things can be done by telecommuting, but certainly most all of public service is a five-day-a-week job.
And earlier this week, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, the highest-ranking senator and Democrat, chimed in on a plan to have some staffers for House Republicans telecommute.
"We always knew the Republicans were phoning it in; now they want to make it official policy," said Derek Slap, spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn. "The reality is that the GOP plan would not save taxpayers any money and would not ease congestion. In fact, the only people the plan would help would be Republican caucus staff members."
As I mentioned earlier this week, all of this runs counter to the trend in the corporate work towards these flexible options. Bank of America, for example, launched a telecommuting program earlier this month to great fanfare, hoping to boost the numbers of employees that telecommute.
Will the state start taking more cues from the corporate world? That seems unlikely for now. But as more corporations consider these options, it’ll be fascinating to watch how their experiences shape policy discussions going forwards.
For those that are curious about employment laws on the subject, there’s nothing about our state or federal employment laws that prohibit either telecommuting or four-day work weeks (we don’t for example have a "daily" overtime rule, like Nevada). So it boils down to a policy argument about the benefits of four-day work weeks and telecommuting. Right now, the status quo is winning.