Many people have been conditioned to believe that endless labour is the only road to happiness and success – perhaps, colonial-capitalism has something to do with it.
At pipikwan pêhtâkwan, we think differently about work – we’ve been decolonizing western corporate culture around the workweek since August 2021 with our introduction of the four-day workweek. pipikwan pêhtâkwan has always operated remotely and we’ve watched as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed people out of the office and into their homes. As people were given more freedom to take schedules into their own hands, we’ve also seen conversations centered around working hours reignite.
Anna Coote writes in The Case for a Four Day Week (2020) that labourers in late 18th-century Britain typically worked 16-hour days, six days a week. To combat poor working conditions during the Industrial Revolution, movements were built on the Marxist idea of an eight-hour workday – popularizing the 40-hour workweek in 1926. But, as we find in colonial spaces, there is always more work to do – since 1926, the 40-hour workweek has remained static and people have become increasingly dissatisfied.
When asked about how the four-day workweek decolonizes corporate work structure, pipikwan pêhtâkwan founder and CEO Shani Gwin says, “a four-day workweek is a good start to challenging the status quo – we are living in a world that has a five-day workweek, so taking it slow with these changes helps us to accommodate our clients while trying something new.”
For Shani, being the founder comes with the challenge of accomplishing all there is to be done in four days. But she tries to take full advantage of it as much as she can. “I know I will have time to do more – to keep my home life organized, to do chores, and be more available for school events and cultural activities – maybe even a nap!”
Shani says she understands that people deserve more time to truly rest and recharge and believes it’s crucial to provide the opportunity for staff to connect with who they are by spending more time with their families and friends.
“It’s important that we move forward with progressive models – focusing on people rather than what we produce,” Shani says. “We joke that one year at pipikwan is 6648 human years because of how much can happen in a short time. It’s critical that we take care of ourselves. We have emotionally and spiritually heavy content that we work on, and in order to come to work ready, feeling safe and creative – we have to take time for ourselves. By investing in our team, I invest in our company and in my own well-being. A happy, supported team is a healthy team!”
This change to a four-day workweek (32 hours per week) has enabled our employees to remain productive while having an extra day for themselves and their families.