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Four-day work week trial at Toronto tech company led to 'unanticipated' result, CEO says

The CEO of a Toronto tech company says a trial into four-day work weeks has been a big success and the experiment even brought forward an "unanticipated" result.

Ross Wainwright, CEO of Alida, said the software company implemented four-day work weeks for its 500 employees at the start of June and the two-month trial wraps up this week.

Company officials said the decision for the shortened work week came from employee feedback and was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The early results are fantastic," Wainwright told CP24 Wednesday. "The employees are clearly happier and they are more balanced."

Wainwright said the company did not reduce salaries in order to achieve the four-day work week, where everyone has Fridays off.

"This is about getting better balance for our employees and helping to invest in their mental health," he said

Wainwright said the most "unanticipated" result of the trial was how empowered his employees told him they felt knowing the company trusted them to get the job done with a reduced schedule.

"We empowered the employees to get the work done within their schedule," he said. "It's the power of trust that really motivated the employees … The day you should trust your employees is the day you hire them and that trust has gone a long way."

Wainwright said the company will take the next six weeks to review the results of the trial and hopes four-day work weeks will become a permanent part of the company’s benefit package.

He said the trial is also having a "huge impact" on employee retention in a time when companies are struggling with labour shortages.

"Without a doubt, I would urge companies to experiment," he said. "We looked at eight Fridays. It wasn't a huge commitment ... It was just the right thing to do."

Meanwhile, the world’s largest four-day work week experiment is nearing at its halfway point in the U.K.. Organizers behind it say there has been significant improvements to people’s wellbeing.

The trial, which is being conducted through partnerships between 4 Day Week Global and researchers at Cambridge, Boston College and Oxford University, includes approximately 3,300 workers across 70 different companies.

Businesses who are participating, while only working 80 per cent of their usual hours, are seeing no changes in compensation or productivity.

"Anecdotally, companies are suggesting there’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience with revenue and productivity levels, [that have] either maintained or, in some cases, improved," Charlotte Lockhart, the managing director and founder of 4 Day Week Global, a not-for-profit organization that has been working to support the adoption of a four-day work week since 2018, told BNN Bloomberg in a video interview earlier this month.

The trial began in June and will continue until November.

With files from BNN Bloomberg's Daniel Johnson. Top Stories

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