Four-day work week adopted by local municipality - Is it just the first?
LONDON, ONT. -- The mayor of Zorra Township says the adoption of a four-day work week for most municipal staffers is a win-win all around.
“I get to offer more services to residents, at no cost, and have staff with more flexible work,” Marcus Ryan tells CTV News.
Starting later this month, primarily administration staff in the township north of Ingersoll, will have the option to work four days a week, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and alter days off to keep the office open Monday to Friday.
That’s a change from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The switch gives employees flexibility to get away more often and to make time for appointments and kids activities.
But for Ryan, the additional hour of service each day for residents is the greatest benefit.
“I think that’s exactly what people are looking for when they say, 'Where’s the efficiency in government?' Well, I think this is it.”
In order to continue to provide all services, when some staff are off, Ryan concedes some cross-training will be required.
For instance, if a resident is looking for building permit, Ryan wants to be sure a staff member can fulfill that need every days of the work week.
While Zorra is the first municipality in the region to make the switch to a four-day work week since COVID-19 hit, Ryan believes other public and private sector businesses will soon be looking at doing the same.
Suggesting COVID-19 has open many administrators eyes to new working options, he says it just makes sense.
“I would hope that other municipalities and businesses take advantage of this and do the same thing. And say, 'Should we consider doing different things?'”
Alycia Wettlaufer, a second-year employee in the clerk’s office in Zorra, agrees. She says a four-day work week will keep young people in the same job longer.
“It’s definitely attractive, especially for the younger generation. I know for myself I don’t necessarily like the nine to five work week, and something like this is definitely attractive, especially if you want to stay long term."
The switch will continue for eight months. During that time, local politicians and administrators will determine its benefits.
But they’ll also have an additional tool. The local government program at Western University is planning to study how the experiment in Zorra plays out, and later make their own recommendations.