Ayesha Khan says she’s not sure she can return to traditional work after switching to a four-day work week.
His company adopted the new scheme in March. And since then, every Friday, the Milton, Ontario, resident has made time for something as simple as getting her nails done, something she says she, as a mother of two, used to take months to plan.
“How would I go back to that five-day life? It would be very difficult,” said Khan, who works in customer service for Sensei Labs, a Toronto-based software company.
“Being able to focus on my physical and mental health, and just having the time to do it…has been invaluable.”
Khan is one of hundreds of employees across North America who now work four days a week after participating in a pilot project organized by nonprofit advocacy group 4 Day Week Global and Boston College researchers.
According their findings published last weekOf the 41 companies that participated and were surveyed, 35 said they maintain, plan, or are inclined to maintain the new work scheme.
Joe O’Connor, a former CEO of 4 Day Week Global who helped lead the study, says it’s the largest trial of its kind in North America to date and the first to involve a “relatively strong participation” of hundreds. of Canadians from a total of nine companies.
“We’re seeing shorter work weeks lead to happier, healthier employees,” said O’Connor, who is also director and co-founder of the Reduced Work Time Center of Excellence in Toronto.
“They lead to organizations that are better positioned to attract and retain talent, and in fact, surprisingly to people, they also lead to organizations that are more productive.”
The study had companies, most with between 11 and 25 employees, voluntarily test a four-day work week for six months between February 2022 and April 2023. The researchers allowed companies to choose the best way to reduce hours as long as they kept the payment at 100 percent. penny.
For the 15 employees of the Montreal-based company L’Abri, that means working 35 hours Monday through Thursday. Architectural designer Pia Hocheneder says the change made her and her colleagues more focused during work hours and, in fact, encouraged after-hours work meetings to make up for any social contact lost during the day.
“It’s a quality of life that you’re gaining,” Hocheneder said.
What about the bigger companies?
Maureen Juniper, co-founder and partner at public relations firm Praxis, says that after a series of workshops and webinars with 4 Day Work Week Global before the transition, the company took a divided approach: Half of its 27 employees have Monday off, while the other half have Friday off to make sure someone is always there to serve customers during the week.
The change paid off, he said, with no revenue impact. In fact, he said internal findings show the company saw a 25 percent reduction in personal and sick days taken and a 15 percent decrease in time spent on internal and administrative tasks.
“It’s life-changing, and our business has never run more efficiently,” Juniper said.
But Winny Shen, an associate professor of organizational studies at York University in Toronto, says that while the study’s positive results are consistent with previous literature, they are limited because they mostly come from companies with relatively few employees.
“That can be, perhaps, more difficult to scale in a larger company with a lot more people, a lot more complexity,” Shen said.
More studies are needed among random companies and those with more blue-collar workers, he said.
And for those companies trying a four-day week, he says there’s always a risk employees will push back if it’s not made permanent, pointing to a similar move in workplaces trying to demand a return to the office post-pandemic. .
“I think there’s a lot of potential here, but I think before we say this is beneficial in all circumstances, I think we need to do more work and research on that,” Shen said.
Tom Collver, co-founder of remote e-commerce company and pilot participant AddPBJ, says that while the shift to a shortened work week comes with a different set of “friction points” for each company, it’s worth exploring one way in which that it can work. given the potential benefits.
“You don’t have to go crazy right away, but I think it’s a very, very valuable thing to explore because you never know.”