Why one company in New Zealand is trialing shorter hours for all employees… while paying them the same!
It’s 9am on Thursday, and Jim has just arrived at work. Over the course of the day, Jim will attend a couple of meetings, write some emails, field phone calls, check social media, chat to his colleagues about the weekend, make a few cups of tea, browse the news online and respond to some more emails before heading home after 5pm.
Well, according to research from the UK, Jim’s workday is pretty standard for most office workers. In fact, the research shows that most of us working in an office will achieve less than three hours of productive work per day!
Though the results of this research are astonishing, the theory that longer hours don’t equate to greater output is not new. We have known for some time that long hours make us less productive, unhappy and very unhealthy!
It’s research like this that propelled Andrew Barnes, Managing Director of Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand, to make a bold decision to trial a four-day work week among the company’s 230 employees.
Andrew says, “I want to provide my staff with more time or flexibility to manage their personal and family lives and create more focus on productivity when they are at work. What if we change the way we think about productivity, no longer associating it with hours worked?”
While the four-day work week has been trialed before by companies like Amazon, Perpetual Guardian’s trial appears to be the first to offer FULL pay while reducing work time to standard business hours four days a week. The trial’s uniqueness has piqued the interest of researchers at University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology, who are collaborating with Perpetual Guardian to measure and formally publish the results of this ground-breaking experiment.
It’s no surprise that news of the trial has spread fast. Perpetual Guardian’s four-day work trial has been featured in major news outlets like Nine and news.com.au in Australia, Bustle in the US and The Independent in the UK, and has even reached publications in China!
How exactly is Perpetual Guardian making the transition to four days work? In true antipodean fashion, Perpetual Guardian is ‘giving it a good go’, with the employees themselves taking ownership over how they’ll improve productivity. In launching the trial, Andrew told employees,
“This is over to you. We are going to give you the responsibility to figure out how this works for each team, how productivity stays up, and how we can continue to deliver to our customers despite the changing work hours.”
Andrew tells me that the reduction in working hours doesn’t look the same for everyone. For example, some parents have asked to continue working five days but to start later and leave earlier so they can drop off and pick up their kids from school – all of which has been welcomed.
While the four-day work week is initially running as an eight-week trial, Andrew hopes this will signal a new way of working for Perpetual Guardian and spark more discussion in the global corporate world.
“This project is part of a broader ‘conversation’ about modern working hours and conditions. The four-day week challenges all sorts of issues, from gender equality in the workplace (opportunities and pay) to work life balance and productivity.”
Andrew challenges every company to join the four-day work week movement – you can say “Count Me In” here!
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