U of S assistant professor says pandemic may cause more people to think about a four-day work week

Erica Carleton said she expects the conversation around a new working normal to continue for some time.

Erica Carleton said she expects conversation around new working normal to continue

A University of Saskatchewan professor said she expects conversations about a four-day work week to continue after the pandemic. (Shutterstock)

A University of Saskatchewan assistant professor says it will be hard for people to ignore alternative work arrangements put in place during COVID-19 once the pandemic is over. 

Erica Carleton is an assistant professor at the Edwards School of Business. After New Zealand's Prime Minister suggested a four-day-work week to give the economy a boost, it is back in Carleton's mind. 

"From the employee perspective, it seems it's a really good idea," Carleton said. "Having more time away from work is good for employees."

Carleton said the idea comes and goes periodically, mainly because of how different employers react to it. 

"There's norms around what we consider to be normal about work, and so change is enormously difficult," Carleton said. "You know, employees doing less work for, potentially, the same amount of money might not sit well with employers."

The pandemic has shown the reality of flexible working lives, Carleton said. 

"I think it's going to be harder to ignore questions like a four-day work week or like more flexible work time," she said. 

The coronavirus pandemic has people all around the world rethinking how, where and when we work. The Prime Minister of New Zealand recently suggested employers should consider a four-day work week in order to give people more flexibility and help boost the economy post Covid-19. Erica Carleton is a professor in the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan. She spoke with Saskatoon Morning's Jennifer Quesnel. 5:37

A four-day work week could have benefits for both employees and employers, as Statistics Canada says the majority of Canadians' stress is from work, Carleton said. 

If people have more autonomy and control, it improves their well-being, she said. 

"In general you do want to have healthy employees — that will cost you less in the end in terms of how much they use their benefits, that sort of thing," she said. 

A man in Accra, Ghana works from home. Companies around the world have had to adjust to co-ordinating and monitoring work from a distance. (Francis Kokoroko/Reuters)

Carleton said that some changes may become the new normal after the pandemic. 

"I think this conversation is going to continue for sure."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?