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Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.

Even as some companies make headlines for introducing a four-day work week, the vast majority of Canadians still work the traditional five days. To get an idea of what it is really like, we spoke to three employees who have made the switch. They say their work-life balance has improved, but there are challenges with the arrangement.

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Mary Sheldon, marketing director at learning and development company Box of Crayons in Toronto, has been working four-day weeks since October, 2021, along with the rest of the company.

“Suddenly, I had this day in my week where I wasn’t working and my kids are in school,” Ms. Sheldon said. “For the first time in [about] 20 years I had this magical day in the week where I was like, oh my God, I can go ride a horse again – I can do something for myself.”

But Ms. Sheldon, who describes the experience as “transformational,” says it hasn’t all been easy.

“We still have expected outcomes, we still have deadlines we need to hit or things we need to have done within the week. So a major challenge for me has just been figuring out how to navigate the time management of my week.”

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“I would say the reality of that is I end up working longer days, those four days of the week,” she says.

Jorge Chaparro, a community manager at video game developer Square Enix Montréal, has been enjoying what the company has dubbed “Magic Mondays.”

This initiative, which started in June, 2021, means that employees get every second Monday off and are paid as usual.

“When it was initially launched, there was an acclimatization period where we needed to sort of adjust,” he says.

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Mr. Chaparro said he had to find new ways of thinking and organizing himself – such as framing his goals around completing 10 days of work over nine days, instead of five days of work over four days – so he could maximize his productivity.

As a father to an eight-month-old, Mr. Chaparro says the shorter weeks have made this new stage of life more manageable.

“It’s hard enough to get things done around the house … laundry, groceries, etc. on a regular basis. With a baby added into the mix, it gets pretty challenging.”

While his child is at daycare on a Magic Monday, Mr. Chaparro uses that time to get to chores, allowing him to spend more time with his family, stress-free, over the weekends and in the evenings.

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Eric Wright got a taste of the four-day work week when he was the communications officer for Toronto-based non-profit Rainbow Railroad, which helps LGBTQ people outside Canada.

The organization instituted the four-day work week in the summer of 2021.

He said the extra day allowed him to truly feel he “can have two tracks in life,” and described the relationship of work and life as “synergistic,” which ultimately led to being more productive in the workplace.

Mr. Wright would like to see the four-day work week conversation discussed more widely if it’s something we want to advocate for as a society.

“What does this mean for people who do not have a salaried position? And how does their work-life balance get taken into account in any kind of legislative changes?” he asks.

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