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Four-Day Work Week Trial Proves Successful in New Zealand

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Perpetual Guardian tested four-day work weeks for two months to see if it would benefit their employees.

The company in New Zealand reported its employees were more productive, less stressed, and enjoy better work-life balance.

One Fewer Days of Work Makes for Happier Employees

Andrew Barnes, CEO of New Zealand-based trust company, Perpetual Guardian, wanted to create a better environment for his team. He wondered what would happen if, for two months, he reduced his employees’ work week from five days to four, without reducing pay.

After the two month trial period, which began in March and ran until the end of April, the company said its more than 240 employees all reported lower stress levels, better work-life balance, and greater productivity from working one fewer days per week.

The Trial Results Were Compared to a Previous 2017 Survey

The results of the two-month trial, which was conducted by outside researchers, was compared to a survey that Perpetual Guardian conducted last year.

In the 2017 survey, the company noted that just over half (54%) of its respondents said they felt capable of managing their work-life balance. After this year’s trial, that number soared to 78%. There was also a notable difference in staff stress levels between the 2017 survey and the 2018 experiment. Stress levels dropped by about 7% to 38% post-trial compared to the 48% pre-trial results.

Team engagement levels also saw an improvement. The metrics that were used to measure team engagement (e.g. leadership, commitment, stimulation, and empowerment) revealed an overall improvement of 20% post-trial.

Staff Input was a Crucial Part of the Experiment

According to Jarrod Harr of Auckland University Technology, input from the staff was key to the trial’s success.

As part of the trial, employees “were given the freedom to redesign things,” said Harr, who was one of the researchers who conducted the experiment.

The Perpetual Guardian CEO remarked that employees were more productive, spending less time on non-work-related activities, including social media. Moreover, Barnes noted that the staff took an active role in the trial, offering their ideas on measuring productivity. Among these ideas included having small flags to place on their desks at times when they did not want to be disturbed.

The Experiment Model Could Revolutionize Workplaces Around the World

“What happens is you get a motivated, energized, stimulated, loyal work force,” Barnes told CNN, regarding the experiment. “I have ended up with statistics that indicate my staff are fiercely proud of the company they work for because it gives a damn.”

Barnes has recommended a permanent four-day work week to the Perpetual Guardian board.

Beyond benefiting its own workplace, The New Zealand company’s four-day work week experiment could be a model for other workplaces around the world. Harr noted that it would be a “revolutionary way to work.”

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.