A company in New Zealand has found that a four-day workweek not only doesn’t hurt productivity, but actually improves it. The experiment was so successful that management is seeking to make the change permanent.
Perpetual Guardian is a New Zealand firm that manages trusts, wills and estates. It recently concluded a two-month trial period where its 240 employees worked only four days a week instead of the traditional five. Their salaries remained the same.
Every metric that looked at leadership, commitment, simulation and team engagement increased.
“An enduring theme was the increased level of focus and presence, a ‘head down’ ‘just do it’ approach to one’s work. The reduced hours meant that employees could sustain a more intensive work pattern, and they were more motivated upon returning to work,” stated research conducted by The University of Auckland’s Business School in New Zealand on the trial.
Employees reported an increased level of collaboration and teamwork, with employees describing how they felt more of a willingness to “help each other out.”
Many employees, according to the research saw the reduced hours as “a gift” and “a privilege not a right.” Workers felt a deep sense of goodwill towards the company, which caused them to “go the extra mile” and think about what they can to “give back,” the research states. Many employees even reported a willingness to be available for job-related activities on their days off.
Outside of work, employees expressed an ability to accomplish more tasks in their personal lives. These tasks had been previously “crammed in,” “put off” or “rushed between” the busyness of their five-day workweeks, employees said. Workers reported feeling “less psychologically rushed” with the extra day off.
Many expressed satisfaction in the “pure indulgence” of having “you time” among the demands of their work-a-day lives. Staff stress levels decreased 7%, and 78% of employees said they could manage work-life balance, up from 54% pre-trial.
The company was given a month to prepare, putting productivity measures in place before the trial kicked off on March 5. Employees also completed surveys both before and after the trial period.
In view of the results, CEO Andrew Barnes recommended to Perpetual’s board that the four-day workweek be made permanent.