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Reality Check: How is a 4-day workweek working for some Asheville employees?

Almost a decade ago, the City of Asheville moved the Public Works Department to a four-day workweek, with employees working 10 hours-a-day. The goal back then was to save money and cut down on electricity and gas bills. A 2009 study found employees' productivity stayed the same or improved. The employees who are on the schedule love it, but the city decided it's not for everybody. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Almost a decade ago, the City of Asheville moved the Public Works Department to a four-day workweek, with employees working 10 hours-a-day.

The goal back then was to save money and cut down on electricity and gas bills. A 2009 study found employees' productivity stayed the same or improved. The employees who are on the schedule love it, but the city decided it's not for everybody.

News 13 caught up with Gary Reynolds. He was cleaning up downtown, where he never knows what he's going to find.

"Lot and lots of cigarette butts," he said.

He also never knows who he's going to find.

"We saw John Cena walking around a couple weeks ago. It's amazing who you run into out here," Reynolds said.

Most jobs have eight-hour shifts, but it's been a long time since Reynolds worked just eight hours. In fact, it was before he worked for the city. Now, he works 10 hours per day, four days a week. He finds it's easier to run errands on a weekday.

"There's less people around, you know? It's nice," he said.

The city said employees were worried about finding extended child care at first, but Reynolds' boss said the people who work four days a week love it.

"It works great. People are very happy. Morale is good, and it is awesome to work four 10s," Chris Daniels, the Public Works Labor Crew Coordinator, said.

In an initial review, the city found the new schedule cut electricity and natural gas usage by 10 percent. Employees also get to save on gas because they don't need to come into work a fifth day. Daniels has been on the schedule for nine years.

"I love working here. We get a lot of mobility with the jobs that we do, and it's awesome. It's an awesome job," Daniels said.

The city found the four-day workweek isn't for everybody. The permitting office tested shutting its doors on Fridays, but it didn't work. It went to back a regular five-day workweek.

"If we were only looking at sustainability, we would probably implement it in more departments. But it just -- our customers, our citizens, any guests in the city, they tend to need that extra day to be able to get the service from the city," Assistant City Manager Cathy Ball said.

Ball estimates 25 percent of city employees work the 10-hour shift. It varies from divisions with the different departments. The city doesn't want its scheduling to set anybody back.

"First and foremost it needs to meet the customer service needs of our community," Ball said.

News 13 met Reynolds on a Thursday, which meant his weekend would start in just a few hours.

Ball said the city isn't looking to expand the four-day work week into other departments. If a manager wants to try it, the city requires a study to see how it would affect services.

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