Workplace flexibility has become the norm in the past year and a half, with most 9-5 roles adapting to remote positions in the wake of the pandemic closures. While many expected this switch to lead to decreased focus and results, new studies have found that productivity was increased by nearly 20% as a result of remote work. This sway towards a more relaxed workplace atmosphere has brought to light new ideas surrounding Canadian career culture, with the 4-day work week being at the centre of the discussion.
The 4-day work week is not an entirely new premise, with countries like Spain, Japan, and New Zealand all testing it for themselves with positive results. Microsoft Japan–one of the first to introduce the 4-day work week–saw a 40% increase in productivity once implementing this new schedule. As the trials of this new system gain traction, Canadian’s have been calling for a change in the standard 5-day work week, with places in Quebec and Nova Scotia already test-running the idea with similar positive results to the Japan trials.
The 5-day work week was originally established by Henry Ford in the 1920’s, and was a huge change for factory workers, who at the time were working up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Ford found that productivity and morale boosted significantly with increased time off, and the model has been around ever since. While the 5-day work week was a step in the right direction, studies have found that the standard 40-45 hour work week is still too high to maximize productivity.
At a time when workplace stress and burnout are at an all-time high, Canadian’s are ready for a change. A recent study by the Angus Reid Institute states that of the Canadians surveyed, 53% believe a 30 hour work week should be the standard. While the 4-day work week has yet to hit a national level, many individual municipalities and businesses are testing the waters themselves after seeing the improvement to both employee morale, and their bottom line.