Why A Four-Day Workweek Is Gaining Traction in BC and Beyond

Living to work or working to live?

From Germany to New Zealand, companies are embracing a four-day workweek

We all live on a random rock hurtling through an ever-expanding universe at 492,126 miles per hour, and all of us will be dead in about 100 years.

Given that, a four-day workweek sounds pretty reasonable.

It’s not exactly rocket science. The less burned-out and more fulfilled people are, the more energy they have to put into their jobs.

Germany is one of the most productive countries in the world and has one of the shortest work weeks at 34.2 hours. Large Japanese companies are toying with the 4-day week. Unilever is testing a shorter work week at its New Zealand operations.

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Global Program Director of 4 Day Week Global, says the same results are already happening at home.

“In the last few years, the 4-day week has gone from an outlandish concept to a reality practiced by businesses worldwide. British Columbia companies— including law firms, drug companies, start-ups, and foundations— have been at the forefront of the movement and turned the region into one of its epicentres,” said Soojung-Kim Pang.

Vancouver-based Blackbird Interactive is one of those companies.

“We saw the advantages very quickly during our initial pilot program, including better focus during work hours, higher morale, and increased efficiency. We have since made the transition to the shorter work week permanent with no intention of going back,” said the game developers Chief Creative Officer Rory McGuire.

Despite mounting evidence of its benefits, the concept has still been met with skepticism.

Local business owner David Screech told CHEK news he’s certain implementing a 4-day work week would hurt, not benefit, his small business Gregg’s Furniture & Upholstery in Victoria.

“Medium-sized and small businesses are already struggling like mad in this climate,” he said. “The idea that we can lose a full day of production and pay our staff the same amount of money in a competitive market makes no sense at all.”

Who gets more work done – half-assed employees toiling five days a week or motivated and efficient workers clocking in four days? It’s still up for debate for a lot of people.

The Green Party is all for it.

The BC Green Caucus has called on the BC NDP to pilot a four-day workweek across the province.

“Results from pilots and trials in B.C., across Canada, and around the world prove that a four-day week is good for businesses and good for people. The evidence is clear, workers want a shortened week, and businesses face better outcomes for it,” said Sonia Furstenau

The Green Party’s Fustenaua said getting an honest answer to this debate is partly why they’re asking the NDP to incentivize a 3-year trial run with a tax break.

“A tax break would help them in a time where every penny counts. We want to show that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and allow businesses to adapt in ways that work for them,” she said. 

The idea looks similar to a proposed bill in the state of Maryland. 

There are thus far no plans for legislative changes to implement the Green Party’s proposal.