Guysborough, Nova Scotia trials a 4-day week

In Canada there has been a fair amount of discussion recently about the possibility of moving to a 4-day week, from Justin Trudeau mentioning it briefly during a press conference, to British Columbia Green Party members arguing for it as a stimulus to tourism, to the Fraser Institute releasing a feasibility study, to me talking about it and SHORTER (US | UK) on a Toronto TV show and Hamilton radio program. On June 15, the Municipality of the District of Guysborough is going to take plunge, and begin trialing a 4-day workweek. “We call it an investment in human infrastructure,” CAO Barry Carroll told the Guysborough Journal.

The new four-day shift schedule will be a nine-month pilot project. “It’s a transition for us back into what would be normal working hours,” he says. “We are going to evaluate it at the annual planning session at the end of January and it might be something we will implement permanently.”

One group of staff will work an extended day Monday to Thursday, the other Tuesday to Friday. “Everyone works the same shift three days a week, but not on the other two days,” says Carroll. “This also lessens our risk during the pandemic.”

The idea for the new shift schedule came as a result of COVID-19 and the quick introduction of alternative work models, he says. “I started thinking about it in late March, early April. Then we heard the prime minister talking about it and we see New Zealand and other countries looking at it.”

As Carroll explained to CBC, this system grows out of a measure the district took to permit social distancing during the pandemic:

the municipality kept employees at the office during the pandemic, but they were working two days at the office and two days at home, if they were able to work from home.

He said workers were split into two groups, Team A and Team B, and they would alternate.

“So, this is an idea that spawned out of that system,” he said.

The municipality covers more than 2000 square miles, but its population is less than 1000, so it’s not an experiment that will affect a lot of lives; but given that Morgantown West Virginia is now doing a 4-day trial, Odsherred Municipality in Denmark has started a 3-year trial, and they’re talking about it in Singapore and the Philippines, it’s notable as part of a bigger trend in government experiments with 4-day weeks.

Thanks to Sonia Furstenau for pointing this out!

[Note: The featured image is from Bowdoin, Maine; it’s the closest I had to a picture of N.S.]

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