This week my colleague Sonia Furstenau and I connected with Alex Soojung-Kim Pang to discuss his research on the four-day workweek. I am republishing the Facebook Live conversation on YouTube and on The Public Circle Podcast.
So much of our lives have been re-designed in the past four months. It was in our workplaces where the most abrupt and dramatic changes occurred. Many of us have had to quickly adapt to working from home, our children, their teachers and administrators had to develop tools for learning online.
We quickly found out that our relationship with the office was perhaps not as cemented as we previously thought. It is possible to work remotely, and as companies evolve and develop their “new normal” perhaps it is not necessary to cling to the 20th century idea of the workplace. So I ask the question, is there an opportunity to reimagine our relationship with the office?
The four-day workweek is one of the ideas that has been testing the status quo bias during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have written about it here and republished an editorial from my colleague Sonia Furstenau here.
The discussion starts with Alex providing an overview of his book Shorter: Work Better, Smarter and Less – Here’s How. He highlights the experience of many entrepreneurs who have disrupted the workweek. His findings are encouraging. While it may seem counterintuitive, companies that have embraced the four-day workweek have generally found their profits increase as has the productivity and happiness of their worker.
We discuss these examples as well as ask some of the challenging questions that have been put to Sonia and I. In the past few weeks that we have been talking about this idea for British Columbia we have heard a mix of feedback. While there is a lot of interest in having more time to rest and administer the other aspects of life, there are also concerns from business owners about increased labour costs and workers fearing a decrease in their wages.
This is just an initial conversation and by no means exhaustive. While there are examples of private companies embracing the four-day workweek there is yet to be a jurisdiction that is exploring the idea through a public policy lens. This is an exciting area of innovation and opportunity and Sonia and I will continue to explore these ideas and opportunities for British Columbia.
I encourage you to continue to share your feedback, ideas, opportunities and concerns with us. As I say in our discussion with Alex, it is important to hear all the reasons why it could not happen in your sector of the economy because understanding the obstacles will better equip us for planning to overcome them.