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Adventist World Headquarters Moves to Four-Day Workweek

The Adventist world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, will be moving to a four-day workweek, effective August 1. In an early morning meeting with employees, on July 28, Ted Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, announced that the change is not about the money, but to benefit the workers, including to raise morale.

This has been an emerging trend in conference offices in America – they remain open 10 hours a day from Monday through Thursday, but close on Friday.

“For us, it works,” says Raj Attiken, president of the Ohio conference, which changed about a year and a half ago after other conferences in the Columbia Union had made the move. Elder Attiken points out that virtual connectedness allows some conference employees to get work done while traveling or at home. Mentioning research that shows a higher level of worker productivity with office days longer, but workweeks shorter, he adds, “I have not picked up any negative repercussions from the constituency.” He points out that his mobile phone number is on his office voicemail message and so is available to anyone 24-hours a day.

A four-day workweek has been discussed by the energy minister of Nova Scotia and it has been implemented in major state services throughout Hawaii and Utah.

TIME magazine reports:

After 12 months, Utah’s experiment has been deemed so successful that a new acronym could catch on: TGIT (thank God it’s Thursday). The state found that its compressed workweek resulted in a 13% reduction in energy use and estimated that employees saved as much as $6 million in gasoline costs. Altogether, the initiative will cut the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 12,000 metric tons a year. And perhaps not surprisingly, 82% of state workers say they want to keep the new schedule.

Other states, like Nevada have faced some pushback to the idea as workers dealing with moter vehicle lines and unemployment benefits express frustration that they might not be able to help as many people and thus face a larger backlog.

According to Inc. magazine, this is not necessarily a new trend in business.

It was popular in the late 1970s, but hasn’t quite caught on. About one-third of the businesses who adopted them during that period reverted back to their traditional schedules soon after, says Robert Bird, a professor of business law at the University of Connecticut. Those firms faced a number of challenges. Just because your office is closed on Fridays doesn’t mean your customers won’t need your support five days a week. Working for ten hours a day isn’t for everyone, either.

At the Adventist headquarters the option remains for a five-day workweek for those who want it. But this has always actually been 4.5 days, due to the Adventist tradition of stopping institutional work at noon on Friday to prepare for the Sabbath. As news of this change at the top spreads down through the church, it will be interesting to see if more conference offices, colleges, K-12 schools, churches, and Adventist Book Centers adopt a four-day workweek too.

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