A New Zealand company has announced it will adopt a four-day working week after a successful trial.
The 250 staff at Perpetual Guardian, an Auckland-based financial services firm, will now get an extra day off after a successful trial over March and April this year.
Company founder Andrew Barnes said there is ‘no downside’ to the new system after workers were shown to have reaped the benefits from the extra downtime.
According to a panel of academics who studied the effects on Perpetual Guardian’s employees, workers showed lower stress levels, higher levels of job satisfaction and an improved sense of work-life balance.
Workers will now be given the option of whether or not to opt into the new scheme, with those who opt to stick to a five-day structure given other benefits such as shorter working hours.
‘For us, this is about our company getting improved productivity from greater workplace efficiencies… there’s no downside for us,’ Barnes said.
‘The right attitude is a requirement to make it work – everyone has to be committed and take it seriously for us to create a viable long-term model for our business.’
Barnes said the experiment had potential implications for everything from work/life balance to the gender pay gap and the mental well-being of workers.
He said this could motivate employees to produce better work in a shorter time period.
The Academics who studied Barnes’ employees said in November last year just over half of staff (54%) felt they could balance their work and home commitments, while after the trial this number jumped to 78%.
Staff stress levels decreased by seven percentage points across the board as a result of the trial, while stimulation, commitment and a sense of empowerment at work all improved significantly, with overall life satisfaction increasing by five percentage points.