Can A Four-Day Workweek Work Everywhere?

By Ben Hamill - July 13 2021

Can A Four-Day Workweek Work Everywhere

In Zorra, a rural township just to the east of London, Ontario, the largest public-sector trial of four-day workweeks in Canada is currently underway. All 14 of the township’s municipal staff have been participating in an eight-month long test project.

The first leg of this trial ran from September to December of last year but was paused as the global health crisis forced most offices the world over to work remotely. The second instalment of the trial began in the first week of July.

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How Does A Four-Day Workweek Work?

The current trial underway in Zorra sees the full staff compliment divided into two teams. One works from Monday to Thursday, while the other works from Tuesday to Friday. With this, the total number of weekly hours that each employee works remains at 35, which is comprised of hour 8.75-hour long days as opposed to five seven-hour days. This new system has not affected the pay of the staff.

Alycia Wettlaufer, a Deputy Clerk in Zorra’s municipality, said that a four-day workweek comes with a learning curve. She said that before the new arrangement, she would come into her office and complete her individual work in the early hours of the day, and the collaborative work would be completed later in the morning or in the afternoon. These days, she says that she has had to readjust and complete her individual work on Monday and then schedules collaborative work for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, when the whole team is in the office.

The experiment in Zorra will continue until the end of November, at which stage the staff will assess their own levels of productivity, as well as the benefits and challenges that come with a four-day working week.

Evaluating The Benefits Of Alternatives

The global health crisis has resulted in a re-evaluation of many long-held beliefs about flexibility when it comes to working arrangements. According to labour experts, the past 14 months have given us a glimpse into the impact of hybrid working hours on a global scale. This has led to an increasing number of managers evaluating the benefits that condensed workweeks can bring us.

Earlier this month, the results from the world’s largest study of four-day working weeks was released based on a four-year long trial in Iceland. The study, conducted amongst 2,500 public service workers, concluded that overall productivity in offices, police stations and hospitals increased.