State employees better be resting up this weekend — starting Monday in most government offices, their workday will begin at 7 a.m. and won't end for 10 hours.

Of course, they're going to have Fridays off from now on to give them plenty of time to recover from the new schedule of four 10-hour days, Mondays through Thursdays, a one-year pilot program ordered by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

The "Working 4 Utah" program, first proposed by the governor just over a month ago, was expected to save taxpayers an estimated $3 million annually in energy costs by shutting down 1,000 of the state's more than 2,100 buildings on Fridays.

So far, state leaders are a little short of that goal, with only about 600 buildings closing down completely three days a week. But another 287 are going to be at least partially closed on Fridays.

"We are saying we are right now at 89.1 percent of our goal," said Department of Administrative Services Executive Director Kim Hood. She said more buildings may end up being added to the list, such as some that are only leased by the state.

It's not clear how close the state can come over the next year to slicing $3 million from its utility bills. Hood said she is confident the state will see that amount of savings, which would represent a 20 percent reduction.

That could come from additional efforts to cut costs in the future, including moving the limited number of employees in some agencies who'll continue working a traditional five-day workweek into a single location on Fridays.

Some state services aren't affected by the governor's order, including state courts and higher education. But many executive branch agencies will keep some or all of their services available Fridays, including corrections, transportation and alcoholic beverage control.

Utahns, though, are going to have to get used to accessing such state services as drivers' license renewals Mondays through Thursdays, or online anytime. The extra hours of operation those days are expected to ease at least some of the public's frustration.

State workers themselves are generally supportive about the switch to a four-day workweek, although there are still child care, transportation and other difficulties to be worked out for some, said Todd Sutton of the Utah Public Employees Association.

Sutton, an employee representative, said there are several situations where disabled employees unable to work a longer day still need to be accommodated under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.

"We have to wait and see how it affects the employees after the implementation," Sutton said of any potential grievances. "For the most part, we've received quite a bit of positive feedback on this."

The governor's decision not to take away two holidays in the next 12 months helps, Sutton said. Originally, employees were told they would have to work both Columbus Day and Veterans Day because they would be getting 10 hours off on other holidays instead of eight.

But when the actual amount of holiday time given to employees in 2008 was calculated, it turned out employees would have to lose only one holiday, Columbus Day. That may well mean losing both though, if the pilot program becomes permanent a year from now.

Sutton said both UPEA and the state plan to survey employees toward the end of the year to see how the new schedule is working. Their earlier surveys found about 20 percent of workers had concerns about the change in their hours.

"We're ready," said Jeff Herring, the Department of Human Resource Management executive director. "Public workers are committed workers. We'll find ways to make it work."

In some cases, Herring said, they're still looking.

For example, his department's survey of state workers included specific questions aimed at helping the Utah Transit Authority adjust bus schedules where needed. But that might not happen until the fall, he said.

And each state agency is attempting to accommodate specific scheduling problems, Herring said, including letting employees finish their workday on public transportation as they head home or telecommuting even longer hours.

"We're exploring whatever we can do to help the transition go as smooth as possible," he said. "It's been an exciting process. I will be very glad when Monday gets here and we get going. Friday will probably be even better."

Huntsman's own office is kicking off the first week of the new schedule with a 7 a.m. staff meeting — and a 5 p.m. policy meeting. "More than anything, it's going to be filling all of the hours of the day," the governor's spokeswoman, Lisa Roskelley, said of the transition.

Roskelley said although the governor's office will be closed to the public on Fridays, he and his staff still expect to work that day. But this Friday, Huntsman won't be there because he's taking three personal days off.

The state's other elected officials aren't required to comply with the governor's order but are attempting to do so anyway. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's office had to cope with the fact that courts aren't closing on Fridays.

State Treasurer Ed Alter faced a similar problem because banks and financial markets are open on Fridays. Alter said about a third of his 10-member staff will end up working at least part of the day Friday to handle necessary transactions.

"We knew we would have some issues," Alter said. But he said it remains to be seen whether moving to a shorter workweek is a good idea for the state. "If we save as much or more than they say we will, it will be worth it. It not, maybe it's not worth the disruption."

More information on new workweek

• Governor's office hotline: 801-538-1808

• State services exempted from Friday closures: governor.utah.gov

• State services available online: utah.gov

Source: Governor's office

Some entities exempt from 4-day workweek

• Capitol tours

• Corrections

• Utah Highway Patrol

• Road construction/snow removal/traffic operations

• Tax collections

• Unemployment checks

• Financial examiners

• Liquor stores/warehouse

• Book/art collections

• Salt Lake Clinic

• Microbiology/newborn blood screening

• Fleet fueling stations

• Building maintenance

• Internal mail

• Travel office

Source: Governor's office

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com