If the pandemic can break down the world economy, it has the potential to build it up again in ways that we’ve never expected.
One such suggestion involves shortening the work week to four days, something New Zealand and some European countries are currently mulling over.
The idea has made its way to Canada where people are discussing what that would look like.
Naturally, most people are here for it.
Travel Manitoba CEO Colin Ferguson outlined some of the challenges the otherwise innovative idea could present.
He said that businesses must be encouraged to participate and customer confidence must be maintained.
It’s an idea that has been floated in Canada on-and-off for decades, long before the pandemic. Countries like France already have work weeks with fewer hours than our standard 40.
In New Zealand, the idea stems from the impact the pandemic has had on travel.
As bars and pubs reopen in New Zealand this week, the government is looking at ways to give people the flexibly to travel around and fuel the local economy.
A three-day weekend might help increase tourism and boost economic activity in the country.
The idea has already been tested in Japan where last year, Microsoft offered employees four-day work weeks with five days of pay. The result was a 40 per cent increase in productivity. Employees also said they were happier and the company was more profitable.
Under the plan, employees would get an extra day off while maintaining full salary.
Not everyone is in favour of the idea, however, with businesses voicing concerns about staffing shortages they’ve already been facing while reopening.
When the idea was tested in New Zealand in 2018, some people found the pressure to complete tasks in a short period of time was stressful and that they were bored with their extra day off.
A four-day week wouldn’t mean any less work time, either. The 40-hour standard would still be in place, but compressed over four, 10-hour days.
Under the model there is potential for a flexible or fixed work schedule, which may be beneficial for working parents, caregivers and millennials.
Interestingly, it also eased traffic congestion in Auckland where the experiment took place. Toronto has already recommended staggering shifts and offering flexible work schedules in an effort to ease congestion on public transit during the health crisis.
Any way you dice it, a four-day work week would be a dramatic change to work and life for Canadians. And, as we try to figure out how to get back on our feet, all ideas are on the table.