Nova Scotia

This Nova Scotia municipality is trying out a 4-day work week

The Municipality of the District of Guysborough is moving to a four-day work week starting on Monday. It's a nine-month pilot project that was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Municipality of the District of Guysborough's 9-month pilot project to begin Monday

The Municipality of the District of Guysborough is moving to a 4-day work week on a trial basis. (Indypendenz/Shutterstock)

The Municipality of the District of Guysborough is moving to a four-day work week starting on Monday.

It's a nine-month pilot project that was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The municipality's core employees will work the same number of hours over a condensed work week.

"Some good things are actually coming out of COVID," Barry Carroll, the CAO of the municipality, told CBC's Maritime Noon in an interview Friday.

Carroll said 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.

Team A will work from Monday to Thursday and and Team B will work from Tuesday to Friday. The shifts will be rotated during the first full week of the new year, Carroll said.

Barry Carroll is the CAO of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough. (CBC)

Carroll said up to 60 employees will be affected and he hasn't heard any objections. He said employees were given an option to stick to a five-day work week, but no one asked for it.

Carroll thinks one of the reasons staff are open to a condensed work week is more family time.

There are also benefits for the municipality because service hours will be extended, he said.

Administrative offices were operating 35 hours a week, but it'll be bumped to 40 starting Monday. The same thing is happening at the municipality's waste and landfill facility.

'A win-win'

"It's kind of a win-win," Carroll said. "We expand the service hours while at the same time we're putting employees on a shift system where they are able to work the four-day weeks."

Carroll said he doesn't think productivity will be affected. He said the area of the municipality has 550 kilometres of road and some employees have a 45-minute drive to get to a work site.

"When they do that travel, they could be spending an hour and a half or more in the vehicle on a given day just getting to and from a work site," he said. "So, by having less days, it increases our productivity for them because they can stay there longer hours."

Popular idea with employees

Carroll said he noticed municipal employees have been more efficient since the two-team system was implemented for COVID-19.

"People were fresher," he said.

Council will evaluate the the four-day work week at the end of January, seven months into the project. Based on that, it will be determined if the municipality will make the arrangement permanent.

Talks about moving to a four-day work week are happening elsewhere in the world. New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said in May a compressed week "certainly would help tourism all around the country."

After hearing Ardern's comments, a University of Saskatchewan assistant professor said the pandemic revealed the reality of flexible working lives and that moving to a four-day work week could mean less stress for employees.

With files from Bob Murphy and Maritime Noon

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