Blind River council has authorized CAO/Clerk Katie Scott to explore a compressed workweek schedule for town employees and prepare a report for council review in the future.
Over the past three years, there have been significant changes in the way employees work their regular schedules due to COVID-19 restrictions, with many working remotely from home. These changes have included reducing the workweek from five to four days, which subsequent studies have shown to improve employees' home life and well-being.
The studies also found various ways to reduce work schedules, including a combination of in-office and remote work. Implementing a compressed workweek may also enhance opportunities for municipalities to hire new staff.
In her report to council, Scott noted that attracting and retaining qualified candidates for municipal positions has been challenging for the past three years, not only for Blind River but for all municipalities. She emphasized that, in order to stay competitive, Blind River needs to keep up with the latest trends that appeal to qualified candidates in the municipal field.
Scott requested council's permission to investigate the compressed workweek model, discussing it with other municipalities, staff, and gauging their appetite for such a schedule. She emphasized that the final report would consider all options and factors before implementing such a model, with the goal of improving work-life balance for employees while maintaining the level of service for Blind River residents.
Council approved Scott's proposal to conduct the study, acknowledging that there are many factors to consider before making a final decision.
The town of Blind River is exploring the possibility of implementing a compressed workweek schedule for its staff. The idea was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to be more flexible about working situations. Other small communities have also gone above and beyond to continue serving their communities through the pandemic.
While there may be challenges with implementing a condensed workweek, studies have shown that productivity can actually increase when employees have a better work-life balance. One municipality that implemented a compressed workweek did not take a reduction in pay, but rather reduced hours by about six hours a week, allowing them to serve their community better by extending their office hours.
A report will be prepared for the town council, taking into consideration factors such as lifestyle, work-life balance, and productivity. The primary motivating factor is how to make employees happy while still producing as much, given that there is always the demand for more work for less money. It will be interesting to see where this idea goes and how it will be implemented in Blind River.