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Shorter work week comes with many downsides, says Canadian sociologist

02/10/2015 06:29 EST | Updated 04/12/2015 05:59 EDT
Many British Columbians headed into a four-day work week on Tuesday after Family Day, but what if we were able to enjoy a long weekend all the time? What if, instead of working five days a week, we worked only four, or even three days?

The benefits of a three-day work week are pretty obvious — you get more time off for leisurely activities and you can disengage from work, says University of Toronto sociologist Scott Schieman.

ButSchieman, who has been researching work, stress and health among Canadians, warns a three-day work week may not be as wonderful it seems, particularly when it comes to questions about pay and workloads.

"I think what we have to really look at are the nature or the demands of the job — and how those demands can either be compressed in particular time periods, or whether they actually need to be spread out, and that's when you get to some of the cons," he told Daybreak South.

Here are some of Schieman's concerns about a shorter, more leisurely, work week:

Shorter week means longer hours  

"If the work still needs to be done, it just means longer hours," Schieman said.

"The reality is, if you think about cramming all night for a test or something like that, how much can your mind cognitively process, how much can your physical body process?"

Days off don't mean days off

"So you work the three days, but are you sure you're not going to be interrupted [during your off days]?" Schieman said.

"What if there's a deadline, what if there's an ongoing project? Can you really break from that fully?"

Longer hours aren't for everyone

"Imagine if you had kids, if you're taking care of children … are you able to just work non-stop?" Schieman asked.

"What about the three o'clock meeting at school or having to pick up the kids?"

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