Is the 4-day work week coming?

A New Zealand firm that ran a pilot in which its employees worked four days a week, while being paid for five, says the experiment was so successful that it hoped to make the change permanent.

The firm that ran the experiment, Perpetual Guardian, asked two researchers to study the effects on staff. Those independent reports are available here and here.

Jarrod Haar, a human resources professor at Auckland University of Technology, said employees reported a 24 percent improvement in work-life balance, and came back to work energized after their days off.

“Supervisors said staff were more creative, their attendance was better, they were on time, and they didn’t leave early or take long breaks,” Mr. Haar said. “Their actual job performance didn’t change when doing it over four days instead of five.”

Additionally, participants reported an improvement in leadership, commitment, stimulation, and empowerment, each by roughly 20%.

“What we’ve seen is a massive increase in engagement and staff satisfaction about the work they do, a massive increase in staff intention to continue to work with the company and we’ve seen no drop in productivity,” CEO Andrew Barnes explained to the New Zealand Herald.

Because of this win-win effect, Barnes says he’s now trying to make the four-day structure a permanent part of the company ongoing, beyond the end of the two-month trial; he is recommending the change be adopted by the company’s board.

“We’re paying for productivity,” Barnes said. “We’re making a clear distinction here between the amount of hours you spend in the office and what we get out of that.”

With such powerful results and the ever-increasing move into a gig economy, we expect to see more employers test a new, shortened work week in their workplace in the coming months. Before too long, a four-day work week might very easily become the norm.

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