This New Zealand Firm Wants to Introduce a 4-Day Work Week

For two months, workers of Perpetual Guardian received a 5-day pay for 4 days of work. The test was such a success that the company wants to adopt it for good.

Aug 9, 2018
Special Collections: MINDFUL LIVING

A four day work week may sound too good to be true, but, according to a recent experiment, it could actually yield better results for businesses.

Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand-based company providing wills and estate management, conducted an unprecedented productivity trial, cutting down the work week to four days. From early March through the end of April 2018, their firm of over 240 people received the same pay working one day less each week. The experiment resulted in a resounding success. So much so that the company wants to adopt it for good.

In a survey of the employees taken a year prior, only 54 percent of the respondents reported that they felt able to balance their work with their personal life. After the trial, that number increased to 78 percent. At the same time, staff reported their level of engagement rising by as much as 20 percent while their stress levels decreasing by seven percent. Staff also became more productive and wasted less time on social media and other distractions.

The company’s founder and CEO, Andrew Barnes, drawing inspiration from global productivity reports, described the new way of working as “the right thing to do.” He asked himself, "Why am I not paying based on output? Why am I paying for days in the office?"

Barnes added, “What happens is you get a motivated, energized, stimulated, loyal workforce," he said. "I have ended up with statistics that indicate my staff are fiercely proud of the company they work for because it gives a damn."

The results prove especially significant in a country like New Zealand which, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, has one of the lowest levels of productivity among workers.

Jarrod Haar, a researcher from Auckland University of Technology, helped oversee the experiment. Haar said, "They were given the freedom to redesign things.” The experiment could provide a model for other workplaces and become "a revolutionary way to work,” he went on to say.

Christine Brotherton, Perpetual Guardian’s Head of People and Capability, explained, “If employees are engaged with their job and employer, they are more productive. We believe efficiency will come with more staff focus and motivation, and this trial is a valuable and timely way to test our theories.”

Could the five-day work week soon become a thing of the past? According to experiments like this, the idea of a three-day weekend might be a real possibility. After all, as this trial shows, highly-motivated workers dealing with lower levels of stress become more productive and loyal to their company.

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ALLISON MICHELLE DIENSTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR
Working from her laptop as a freelance writer, Allison lives as a digital nomad, exploring the world while sharing positivity and laughter. She is a lover of language, travel, music, and creativity with a degree in Chinese language and literature.

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