The number of Canadian businesses implementing four-day workweek schedules has increased by 34 per cent over the past year, according to a new study by Bright HR Ltd.

It found, overall, there was a 25 per cent increase in the number of businesses implementing four-day workweeks in the past year. There was only a slight increase of 1.5 per cent in 2023 compared to the previous year, indicating that recent four-day workweek trials likely played a large part in this cultural shift.

In 2022, a pilot run by the group 4 Day Week Global was launched in North America, where 41 organizations tested the shortened week. So far, all participating companies have made the four-day workweek permanent, the study noted.

Read: Four-day workweek pilot participants benefit from reduced burnout, better mental health

A six-month pilot was also launched in the U.K. in 2022, in which 61 organizations and 3,300 employees opted for a shortened workweek. Currently, nine in 10 participating companies are still using the four-day workweek, with more than half making it a permanent fixture for their staff. Nearly all (96 per cent) of the participating employees said their personal life has benefited and 86 per cent said they felt they performed better at work, according to the study. Other countries like Germany and Portugal are following suit by trialling the four-day workweek (with 45 and 39 participating companies, respectively).

However, the study referenced some employers’ expectation that employees increase their daily productivity by 25 per cent to make up for the lack of additional working day, which could lead to increased pressure, stress and, ultimately, burnout. And for those companies condensing the same amount of hours into fewer days, the longer workdays could have a similar negative impact.

“This trend is in line with a growing movement towards flexible working arrangements, as companies strive to attract and retain top talent by offering a better work-life balance,” said Thea Watson, chief growth officer at Bright HR, in a press release. “While the concept of a four-day workweek is still relatively new, initial trials have been successful. However, . . . it may not be suitable for all industries, especially those who need to be operational 24/7, since they still have to be able to communicate effectively with clients and suppliers and meet demands.”

Read: Canadian employers implementing four-day workweek note increased worker happiness, productivity: report