Juno College of Technology is one of many employers implementing a four-day workweek in 2022.

During the summer of 2021, Heather Payne, the college’s chief executive officer, decided to constrain the company’s growth rate to focus on more people-first policies. “I had an epiphany . . . and realized that putting my company on a rapid growth path wasn’t going to make me happy. Then I realized there was an opportunity for me to consider policies like a four-day workweek.”

The college began transitioning employees to a four-day workweek in January 2022, she says, noting staff will still receive the same market-rate salary as they did before the switch. However, to give employees time to adjust to the new work schedule, Juno is gradually phasing in the new work hours. All employees received one Friday off in January, then two in February and three in March.

Read: Majority of Canadian employees in favour of four-day workweek: survey 

“We’ve now decided that we’ll hold at three Fridays off for April,” says Payne. “If you cut 20 per cent of people’s time, it can be very painful for staff and students, as they haven’t had a chance to adapt to new working styles.”

Some teams have adapted quickly, but others need more time to rebalance tasks throughout the shorter workweek, she adds, noting the company is still aiming to have everyone switch to a four-day workweek by the end of the year.

Juno isn’t the only organization implementing this type of policy, as a host of organizations have recently started to offer their employees the ability to move to a four-day workweek. In October 2021, Toronto-based software developer Tulip.io Inc. began allowing employees to work four or 4.5 days, depending on their personal schedules. And in January 2022, Media Profile, a public relations firm, began providing staff with the option to work a four-day workweek at a reduced salary.

The policy has been gaining steam, so much so that Ontario’s Liberal Party has pledged it will review the potential for a four-day workweek if elected this summer.

Read: Toronto software company offering 4-day workweek, flexibility to employees

The shortened workweek isn’t the only people-first policy the college has implemented over the last few months. In 2021, it closed the college twice for a week with no changes to salaries. And in January, it also announced it will move to a 100 per cent employee-ownership model.

Alongside these changes, the college’s human resources team prioritizes employee engagement and has tracked it on a weekly basis using a virtual tool since January 2020, says Payne.

“Right now, many employers are demanding their employees return to the office, which isn’t in tune with what a lot of employees prefer,” says Payne. “The shift to remote working has made it possible for us to consider policies like this because we are so productive.”

Read: Toronto’s Juno College planning to move to 100% employee-ownership model