New Dawn’s Four Day Work Week Pilot

At New Dawn we’ve decided to take this moment to reflect on how we work and see if we can strike a better balance between our work, home, family, and personal lives.


COVID-19 has changed us in innumerable ways.

We have a deeper understanding of virus transmission, the workings of vaccines, and the role of public health than perhaps we ever thought possible. We’ve seen firsthand how pandemics impact those who have already been made vulnerable because of poverty, systemic racism, and systemic ableism.

We’ve seen physical workplaces become virtual almost overnight, and we continue to live with the impacts of uncertainty, stress, sickness, and changes to employment and income on our mental health and well-being.

At New Dawn we’ve decided to take this moment to reflect on how we work and to see if we can strike a better balance between our work, home, family, and personal lives, recognizing that life is busy and getting busier, and we’re all carrying more tasks, responsibilities, questions, burdens, and priorities as we emerge from the last two years.

Starting on June 6th, New Dawn will begin a six-month a Four Day Work Week Pilot with the hope of making this a permanent feature of the organization in 2023. Our goals in pursuing the Pilot include:

  • Taking proactive steps to prevent workplace burnout
  • Creating a workplace culture that prioritize balance between the work and home lives of employees
  • Reframing how we think about work, from hours in office to responsibilities to execute and outcomes to achieve
  • Reflecting on the way in which Western culture connects worth to productivity, and thinking about the other needs and gifts we have that create whole and balanced lives: friends and family, connection and relationships, health and well being, civic and community contributions, among others.
  • Continuously striving for the values of care, flexibility, responsiveness, self-determination, and accountability in all that we do: for and with our employees, clients, tenants, and community

A Global Shift to Reduced Working Hours

All across the world, COVID-19 has prompted organizations, businesses, and governments to re-evaluate where, when, and how they work.

The human-centered company culture being forged has some recurring characteristics: flexibility, asynchrony, trust, belonging, and a holistic focus on well-being. Global Talent Trends, 2022

Reduced Hour Work Weeks (or as more commonly referred to, Four-Day Work Weeks) have been implemented in Iceland, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, Scotland, Japan, Belgium, and Ireland. Closer to home, companies like Alida, Coconut Software, Inc, and the Leadership Agency have transitioned to a Reduced Hour Work Week, as have the municipalities of Zorra, Ontario and Guysborough, Nova Scotia.

Starting in 2015, Reykjavik City Council and the Icelandic government launched the initiative spurred by pressure from trade unions and civil society organizations. Their goals were to reimagine citizens’ relationship with work and to determine if compressing office hours would actually enhance productivity.

The overarching picture that emerges is that the Icelandic trials strongly challenge the idea that a reduction in working hours will lower service provision. On the contrary, they show that productivity can, in many instances, be increased through working time reduction.

Workers managed to gather their existing working practices and working conditions and made changes to try and make them more efficient and productive…simple things like cutting out meetings, moving to emails.

Furthermore, when employees are satisfied with their companies’ time (how many hours you are required to work each week) and location (where you can work from) they are 2.6 times more likely to report being happy and 2.1 times more likely to recommend working for the company.

What Does This Mean for Those We Serve?

Over the last number of months we have examined how we can make this transition with as minimal as possible of an impact on those we serve: our clients, tenants, partners, and community.

In the coming weeks you may see or receive notices of changing hours from some of our divisions.

For example, the new hours of operation of the Cape Breton Island Centre for Immigration will be Tuesday to Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

The new office hours for our New Dawn Properties division will be Tuesday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

New Dawn Meals on Wheels will deliver meals on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, with two meals delivered on Thursdays to clients who require Friday meals, and extra care paid to food storage and safety procedures.

In all cases, these hours have been selected on the basis of historical demand/peaks for services, and printed notices will be delivered to all current clients and tenants.

The Eltuek Arts Centre, New Dawn Centre, New Dawn Guest Home, and New Dawn Home Living will continue to operate five days a week, and staff will alternate their four working days.

Over the course of the next six months, we’ll undertake a series of evaluations to assess whether this pilot is having the impacts we intend, without causing undue disruptions in services.

We undertake this pilot with a spirit of learning, experimentation, curiosity, openness, adaptability, and humility. And while this may mean that staff take an additional day or two to respond to inquiries, we remain deeply committed to all those we serve, their well-being, and our work towards growing vibrancy and self-reliance for Unama’ki.

We’re honoured to be undertaking this Pilot alongside our colleagues at IONS (Impact Organizations of Nova Scotia), and the Ecology Action Centre, and know that by doing this work together we’ll all benefit from the learnings of each other.

If you have any questions or concerns about New Dawn’s Four Day Work Week Pilot, please contact:

Shane MacSween
New Dawn, HR Coordinator
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 902-539-9560

Additional Resources