4-day work week with fewer hours, same pay could become a reality in some workplaces post-COVID-19

It is solely been days since a small Nova Scotia municipality launched a four-day condensed work week pilot challenge, however in response to the chief administrative officer, to this point, so good.

The nine-month challenge, developed within the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, permits the municipality’s core workers to work the identical variety of hours over a interval of 4 days, recognized to many as a compressed work week.

“Our workers appear to be additional excited concerning the new work system,” mentioned Barry Carroll, Chief Administrative Officer for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough. “We had some minor changes to make, clearly, however in any other case it has been fairly seamless.”

Acquainted idea positive aspects new consideration

Whereas the compressed work week just isn’t a brand new concep​​​​​​t, it has been given some renewed consideration since COVID-19 modified the way in which individuals work. For a lot of, that features extra versatile hours and dealing from dwelling.

“What [the pandemic] has proven organizations is that individuals can work in numerous work conditions,” mentioned Erica Carleton, an assistant professor of organizational behaviour on the College of Saskatchewan. 

“They will get their work carried out. You do not want your boss sitting on high of you to complete your work.”

The concept of a four-day work week lately gained a bit extra steam after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern mused about it in a Fb dwell chat, saying that it definitely would assist home tourism, as extra versatile working preparations might enable New Zealanders to journey extra inside their very own nation.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lately mused {that a} four-day work week would enhance home tourism. (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Pictures)

Nonetheless, some specialists and researchers recommend employers ought to take into account one other sort of four-day work week, one that permits workers to work fewer hours and receives a commission their identical weekly wage. 

That construction, they mentioned, would not solely enhance a work-life steadiness, however enhance productiveness amongst workers. 

“There is a principle known as the glad, productive employee speculation,” mentioned Carleton. “The happier individuals are, the extra productive they’re. Elevated happiness, elevated well-being, simply having individuals much less burdened, they will be higher at doing their jobs.”

However paying employees the identical quantity for fewer hours may very well be a tough and counterintuitive idea for employers to embrace. Carleton acknowledged that the advantages an employer would see from such a piece construction, together with a lift in workers’ well being and well-being, would not be instant.

Nonetheless, some firms have applied one of these work construction and say they’ve recorded some constructive outcomes. Final yr, Microsoft Japan went to a four-day work week, closing its places of work each Friday in August, whereas paying their workers the identical as if that they had labored the total 5 days.

The corporate mentioned that consequently, labour productiveness rose by practically 40 per cent in comparison with August 2018. 

Final yr, the U.Ok.-based College of Readings Henley Enterprise Faculty surveyed 505 enterprise leaders and greater than 2,000 workers throughout the nation, together with over 250 companies that presently function with a four-day working week.

Whereas the researchers acknowledged the outcomes have been preliminary findings that weren’t peer reviewed, they did reveal some fascinating tendencies.

Guysborough’s chief administrative officer, Barry Carroll, mentioned that to this point, his workers are praising the Nova Scotia municipality’s compressed four-day work week. (CBC)

The survey discovered that of these companies that have already adopted a four-day working week, practically two-thirds have reported enhancements in workers productiveness. And greater than three quarters of workers working in that surroundings reported they have been happier, much less burdened and took fewer days off. 

Fallacy of longer work weeks

“The principle fallacy on longer work week is to imagine a linear relationship between the period of time labored and the productiveness of an worker,” Thomas Roulet, a researcher on the challenge, informed CBC Information in an electronic mail. 

“An worker can do extra in 4 days than in 5, if she/he’s extra centered, in higher form mentally and bodily.”

He mentioned it’s extremely seemingly that the COVID-19 disaster will speed up the transfer to a shorter or extra versatile work week, enabled by extra individuals working remotely.

Whereas it could be the worst-kept secret in places of work, Laura Vanderkam, a time administration professional and creator of Off the Clock: Really feel Much less Busy Whereas Getting Extra Carried out, mentioned the fact is “that when individuals are within the workplace for 40 hours, they nearly by no means really put in 40 hours.”

Chopping again on non-work actions

“When you had the identical quantity of labor you needed to get carried out, however you had 36 hours to do it as an alternative of 40, they’d do much less of the stuff that crammed time that is not your job.”

She mentioned that employers must be fixating much less on the hours and extra on what their workers are getting carried out.

“After which if someone manages to do it in 4 days per week? Nice.”

May the four-day work week be coming to Canada? U.Ok. Labour politicians made it an election pledge, and a trial at Microsoft Japan confirmed success. We have a look at the professionals and cons of a four-day week — and a three-day weekend. 14:44

However whether or not or not it’s a compressed work week or a piece week with fewer hours, specialists agreed that each have potential drawbacks.

Lower in productiveness

Chris Higgins, professor emeritus at Western College’s Ivey Enterprise Faculty, mentioned research have proven {that a} compressed four-day work week, whereas fashionable with workers, results in a lower in productiveness with regards to blue-collar jobs. 

“Numerous these jobs are bodily labour jobs. And, you understand, while you begin working 10-hour shifts as an alternative of eight-hour shifts … generally you are bodily drained.”

Additionally, longer shifts might negatively affect an worker’s time after work, leaving them much less time to interact in extracurricular actions or spend time with their households, Carleton mentioned.

One survey discovered that of these companies which have already adopted a four-day working week, practically two-thirds have reported enhancements in workers productiveness. (Indypendenz/Shutterstock)

As for the four-day work week with fewer hours, the Henley Enterprise Faculty survey found that staffing and scheduling may very well be a significant concern, significantly if an employer wants one thing from an worker on a Friday and that worker does not work that day.

Some employers had hassle implementing shorter work weeks. For instance, London-based Wellcome Belief, the world’s second-biggest analysis donor, ended a four-day week for 800 of its head workplace workers, discovering it was “too operationally complicated to implement.” 

Within the U.S., Treehouse, a big tech HR agency that applied a four-day week in 2016, reverted again to 5 days, saying it felt it had did not sustain with competitors, the analysis discovered.

In the meantime, some enterprise teams have warned such a construction might enhance the price of labour.

“The transfer from 5 to 4 days per week just isn’t tailored to all occupations, duties and jobs — it is principally helpful to non-routine, social and high-value duties that can profit from more healthy, extra balanced and extra centered workers,” Roulet mentioned.

Additionally, one thing may very well be misplaced when a few of these ostensibly non-work actions are curtailed, together with constructing social relationships amongst colleagues.

“One would possibly argue that, you understand, speaking along with your colleagues about social stuff is sweet for constructing belief,” Vanderkam mentioned.

In the meantime, Carrol, the CAO of Guysborough, mentioned he’s skeptical {that a} four-day work week with fewer hours is doable or will result in a extra productive workforce.

“I assume you’d need to run a number of trial initiatives with a view to get that [proven]. For many companies, it is tough to pay … the identical wage for much less hours. It is a stretch to have the ability to get there.”

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