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A 4-Day Workweek Is Being Tested All Over Canada & So Many Places Are Making It Permanent

"Labour-wise- it's good. Good all around."👇🇨🇦

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A busy day in Ottawa. Right: A work-from-home setup.

A busy day in Ottawa. Right: A work-from-home setup.

Leo Bruce Hempell | Dreamstime, Wouter | Unsplash

Every weekend is a long weekend for employees in Canada testing a four-day workweek! Towns and individual companies across the country are trialling the change and in many cases, it seems to be going pretty well.

Back in 2020, the Nova Scotia municipality of Guysborough began testing out a four-day workweek for employees in the town. Per the schedule, approximately 60 municipal employees took either Monday or Friday off every week.

After the nine-month pilot project ended in April 2021, councillors approved a policy to keep the shorter schedule in place. It has since become permanent.

Guysborough's warden said the council is "very pleased" with the process. "We're (of) the opinion we're getting more bang for our buck hourly-wise (and) labour-wise- it's good-good all around," he told The Hawk.

The move has inspired more Maritime municipalities to pilot similar projects, including the Town of Quispamsis in New Brunswick. A trial period is already underway, with the aim of deciding whether working fewer days can help improve morale and productivity.

The Ontario township of Zorra began testing a similar schedule in September 2020. The eight-month initiative became optional to municipal staffers, who rotate to take Fridays or Mondays off.

Don MacLeod, Zorra's chief administrative officer, told Global News in July 2021 that there had been "no complaints from staff or the public." The change was later made permanent.

Scrapping the 9-to-5

It's not just towns scrapping the traditional 9-to-5, either. Last year, Ottawa-based tech consultancy firm Iversoft launched an optional four-day workweek to give staff more flexibility.

"As long as the work is getting done, manage however you want," the company's chief executive told staff when introducing the pilot program.

Similar tests are being held in Quebec, with companies like Expedibox and the David Suzuki Foundation for Quebec and Atlantic Canada offering more "productive" alternatives to the traditional five-day workweek.

What about a national four-day workweek?

In Iceland, four-day workweek trials have been ongoing for several years and the results show the program to have been an "overwhelming success."

Between 2015 and 2019, the country had two trials where people worked a reduced week with no pay reduction.

The test was so positive that now 86% of Iceland's workforce either works shorter hours or has the right to reduce their hours if they want to.

Studies say the change improved employees' well-being and work-life balance overall.

In 2022, the world's biggest three-day weekend pilot launched, with over 3,300 employees from 70 firms participating in the new schedule strategy.

When asked in 2020 about the potential for a national four-day workweek in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "I think there are a lot of people thinking creatively about what the post-COVID world could look like."

He added, "And I look forward to hearing a wide range of suggestions. But right now, we're very much focused on getting through this particular crisis."

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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