Workers welcome shortened workweek, study finds

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City staff in Zorra Township are so happy with a four-day work week that almost three-quarters of them would like to extend the innovative experience.

Seventy-three percent of employees say they would like to continue working a compressed schedule, Western University’s Joseph Lyons and York University’s Zachary Spicer told Zorra City Council in a presentation this week.

In the pilot project, staff were at work for 10 hours a day, four days a week. Some worked Monday through Thursday and others Tuesday through Friday, which also meant that municipal offices were open longer at no additional cost to ratepayers.

A post-pilot survey showed that employees valued the most how a compressed workweek offered them flexibility in managing work/life balance.

Township staff in Oxford County, a population of 8,138, were satisfied with their employment with Zorra before the pilot, and this satisfaction remained consistent throughout and after the pilot.

“A potential lesson here is that organizations with a good culture and strong leadership are more likely to be innovative,” said Lyons, director of Western’s local government program and professor of political science.

“If Zorra was a bad place to work to start, management would have been busy dealing with more management issues and wouldn’t have had the support or confidence to try something so ambitious.”

The researchers noted that the positive responses should not be interpreted as universally transposable to every organization or circumstance: they occurred entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a relatively small employee cohort of 30.

“With such a small pool of respondents, the results are susceptible to small variations in responses,” said Spicer, a professor at York’s School of Public Policy and Administration.

The biggest concerns of the compressed workweek among survey respondents were about working longer hours each day, which affected their ability to find childcare or manage responsibilities at home.

Fifty-two percent of respondents cited longer working hours each day while 19 percent said the compressed workweek interrupted workflow.

An inability to complete work and fewer indirect interactions with supervisors and subordinates were also listed as difficulties.

Almost half of employees (43%) said they had no concerns about the four-day work week.

“Those working in the public sector are as keen on more flexibility in their working lives as those in the private sector,” Spicer said. “Zorra gave us a great indication that this flexibility is possible and can be managed well.”

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Provided by University of Western Ontario

Quote: Workers Welcome Shortened Workweek, Study Finds (2021, December 17) Retrieved February 16, 2022, from

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Paul N. Strickland