Decolonizing Work – Benefits of Four-Day Workweek at pipikwan pêhtâkwan

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.

[us_post_image link=”popup_post_image”]
[us_text text=”Here are four ways four-day workweek has been benefitting our team.” tag=”h3″]
[us_iconbox img=”452″ title=”1. Flexibility to fit the demands of life ” size=”1.5rem” iconpos=”left” alignment=”none”]Employees are able to schedule appointments, spend time with friends and family, and do absolutely nothing if they want. Many of our employees have felt the conventional five-day workweek made them feel rushed – forced to squeeze everything they want to do into every lone Saturday or Sunday.

“The four-day workweek is a game-changer for creating space in a world that’s become so full. Our four-day workweek is the only reason I’m able to continue my education and still give my full self to my relationships – including the one with myself.”  – Peyton Meters, Engagement Advisor

“A four-day workweek was on my wish list for employment and I lucked out when I was hired here. Fridays off means I can visit my granddaughter for the day and she can get a day off from daycare to spend with her juiju. I feel blessed and I am so grateful, mussi-cho.” – Coleen Garska, Administrative Assistant[/us_iconbox]

[us_iconbox img=”452″ title=”2. Supports improved mental health” size=”1.5rem” iconpos=”left” alignment=”none”]Many employees believe that four-day workweek has a long-term solution for improving staff mental health and well-being. This is partly due to shorter weeks allowing for better work-life balance. Employees are able to use the extra day off for self-care rituals and other activities that contribute to their well-being.

“As Indigenous Peoples, the health and well-being of the collective is important. We are only as strong as our weakest point and the four-day workweek decolonizes the idea that employees are just individuals working together. It has taught us that our co-workers are all connected parts of the whole. We understand our team must remain healthy to be effective and that one person cannot succeed without the rest. pipikwan pêhtâkwan cares about the whole – that starts with giving everyone the space to bring their best selves and their gifts to our work culture.” – Peyton Meters, Engagement Advisor[/us_iconbox]

[us_iconbox img=”452″ title=”3. Increased productivity” size=”1.5rem” iconpos=”left” alignment=”none”]The idea that fewer hours equals decreased production may be further from the truth than we think. Employees feel they have more freedom to manage time effectively to meet targets and deliverables. With a four-day workweek, absenteeism is reduced as people have an extra day to get things done, along with vacation, personal and sick days.

“My productivity has increased, and life feels more flexible. I don’t feel the need to work extra hours because I am able to manage my time more effectively when I am well rested and can get more done during the week, although I am able to work a few hours on Friday to catch up if I needed to take a few hours off on a different day. I very seldom need to take time off because I get to truly rest on the weekend.” – Robyn Ferguson, Communications Advisor

“A four day work week has increased my productivity and gives me a day to catch up on errands, work I haven’t completed during the week and an extra day to take weekly long weekends!” – Jill McKenzie, Communications Manager[/us_iconbox]

[us_iconbox img=”452″ title=”4. Connection with community ” size=”1.5rem” iconpos=”left” alignment=”none”]Employees want to do more than their 9-to-5, Monday to Friday. They want to be involved in the community through volunteerism and other activities in the community. This extra day off allows time to connect with mentors, mentees, support activities that align with their goals and values, among many other community-focused work.

“Four-day workweek allows me time to connect with my network and take on volunteer opportunities. It feels good to know that the workweek ends on Thursday! Because I have this extra day, I know that I can work on other things that are important to me” – Shawna-Kay Thomas, Director, Corporate Communications & Culture[/us_iconbox]

As pipikwan pêhtâkwan moves forward, we will continue to be on the forefront of decolonizing corporate culture – it isn’t just about righting wrongs, it’s about giving life back to the people we care about. Our four-day workweek is just the beginning.

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