As the pandemic challenged people to rethink aspects of their daily lives and routines, one change that is beginning to take shape is the move to a 4-day work week. While not all businesses are adopting this approach and others are adapting to it at their own pace, will a system like this be more beneficial in the long-term? Would a spare day for rest or other activities be beneficial to those working jobs with high demands or is a more spread-out work week better? Today we will be looking at the implications in 3 countries: Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Interested in learning more about how 2 different companies filled with different sets of companies tackle this new issue? Read on to learn more!
Particularly in the province of Ontario, this new change is beginning to take effect. Some companies have decided to adjust their payroll and schedule in a way to ensure their employees are being paid the same salary as they would during a 5-day work week. But why the sudden move to this model? Companies are doing it in an attempt to increase productivity in their workplaces, and believe that a 4-day work week will help them achieve this. Other underlying causes to switching to a 4-day work week pertain to retaining employees and improving employee wellbeing according to Heather Payne, CEO and founder of Juno College (Xing).
Another catalyst for this change? The Ontario Liberal Party vowed that if they got elected in the spring 2022 election, they would implement this change on more of a widespread scale (Xing). In Canada, who exactly has jumped onto this new trend in the workplace? According to Xing, a town in Nova Scotia along with two companies in Ontario.
Companies in the United States have also followed through with the 4-day work week. A company known as the Boston Boat Reservation Company, located in Boston, Massachusetts, has recently decided to join in on this new model. The employer in this case believed that by giving their employees an extra day to unwind and attend to other duties, this could really benefit performance and productivity in the workplace.
What is next for this model in the United States? Creating a bill and presenting it to the U.S. Congress, who will ultimately evaluate the feasibility of an idea like this. While some politicians, such as Mark Takano are in favour, others are not. However, with all the benefits it presents, it is clear that perhaps it is only a matter of time before more are in favour. After all, several large corporations are leaning toward this model, such as: Kickstarter, Healthwise, and more.
Then there is the United Kingdom. It is estimated that at least 30 companies so far have decided to try out this new model; instead of the typical 40-hour work week they will be dropping it down to 32 hours. Again, what is the main motivator for implementing these sorts of programs and trials across companies and countries on a global scale? The high potential to see an increased quality of work, increased willingness to work, and overall satisfaction in the workplace.
Countries such as Iceland, Scotland, and Spain are also following alongside 4-day work week models similar to the countries listed above. These countries, similar to the other ones, are only in the early stages of implementing this system. It is important to consider that after years and years of using the same standard model, it may be difficult to implement a new one quickly and on a large scale right from the start.
A lot of countries have actually been inspired by Iceland, one of the first to pioneer its use in workplaces. Studies have pointed to more positive correlations between a 4-day work week and employee well being / happiness which is a very encouraging result. Scotland on the other hand, jumped straight into implementing this model into legislation. According to Kelly, the Scottish National Party shifted to a four-day work week model with the same amount of pay as the standard five-day model. So here it is clear that different strategies will work for different businesses and countries. Some are prepared to jump right into it while others would rather roll it out on a more gradual basis.
The Verdict & Solutions
While some people are a bit reluctant to join in this new model, research from other countries and companies thus far have seemed to support it positively. Ultimately however, every country and company is different, and this model may not work to suit the lifestyle or needs of everyone.
A potential solution for companies unsure? Consult your local government for resources and information on how to best use this model. Ontario for instance has plans to make it more widespread in the future, but that may not be the case for every region, let alone country. With anything however, the best way to know if something works is to do trial runs and request feedback. Ultimately this is something that will affect the whole organizational structure, or at least those who work full-time so getting the input of employees will be paramount to its success. Some employees may prefer it from a scheduling point of view while others may prefer to have their workload spread out to reduce stress.
As companies are beginning to welcome their employees back into the offices following the pandemic, they should be mindful of their employees’ thoughts on the subject and see where they stand on this. Since ultimately, if you do not have a satisfied workforce, it will be pretty difficult to motivate them to follow through with new models and policies.
Kelly, J. (2022, January 10). Two Major Companies Announced Four-Day Workweeks—This May Be The Tipping Point For Businesses To Join The Growing Movement. Retrieved March 08, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2022/01/10/two-major-companies-announced-four-day-workweeks-this-may-be-the-tipping-point-for-businesses-to-join-the-growing-movement/?sh=497c29622ad5
Flanagan, P. (2022, January 18). Four-Day Work Week Pilot Launches in U.K. With At Least 30 Companies Taking Part. Retrieved March 08, 2022, from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-18/u-k-companies-pilot-four-day-work-week-with-eye-on-productivity
Forbes Councils Member. (2022, January 12). Contemplating A Four-Day Workweek? Keep These Considerations In Mind. Retrieved march 08, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/01/12/contemplating-a-four-day-workweek-keep-these-considerations-in-mind/?sh=68239c255ace
Xing, L. (2022, January 3). How the pandemic has some Ontario employers switching to a 4-day work week. Retrieved March 08, 2022, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/four-day-work-week-pandemic-1.6278583