Dozens of North American companies are giving it a shot.
The five-day workweek has been commonplace for over one hundred years, and its dominance has held firm despite huge technological advancements that should, in theory, have made life easier for many workers. Some people are determined to change this social norm, advocating for shorter workweeks and a more even split between work and life.
Four Day Week Global is one nonprofit working to reduce the workweek by a full day, with 60 North American companies signed up to a six-month pilot program that tests "productivity-focused working." The organization is promoting a "100-80-100" model, in which workers receive 100% of the pay for 80% of the time while maintaining 100% output.
In other words, the amount of work hasn't changed, just the number of hours in which it needs to get done. The preliminary results from these trial runs are promising, according to researcher and Boston College professor Juliet Schor. "Employees report statistically significant changes such as less stress and burnout, better physical and mental health, more satisfaction with their lives and availability of time, and better and more sleep," she explained in a press release.
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One of the latest companies to join this initiative is L'Abri, an architecture firm based in Montreal. They're one of just five Canadian companies openly associated with the pilot project.
When asked what motivated them to get involved, the team at L'Abri emphasized the importance of the pandemic era as a time to reconsider our relationship to work and rest. The company strives to carry out projects with positive impacts in "ecological, social and human" contexts, and the team sees this experiment as a way to "build a corporate project that reflects these values."
"We strongly believe that this transition has a real potential to improve our collective quality of life," L'Abri wrote in an email to MTL Blog. "We see no reason to wait to try this experiment, which has the potential to revolutionize the working world."
L'Abri also hopes to see some of the benefits reported by other organizations taking this leap. "We strongly believe that there will be a direct effect on the well-being, mental health and productivity of the team if we provide a better work-life balance," they explained. "Employees will have more time to recharge and come back more creative and motivated, which is a win-win situation."
It's also a good opportunity to "openly discuss sometimes anxiety-inducing notions like performance," L'Abri wrote to MTL Blog, "and to adopt a more transparent internal attitude towards these issues."
More data about the impact of the four-day workweek is expected as the pilot projects unfold this fall. If the results continue to be positive, L'Abri hopes to inspire other companies to follow their lead, improving workplace efficiency and connection by offering more time for workers to simply live.