A 4-Day Work Week Makes Employees More Productive

by Jerriann Sullivan
Originally Published: 
Image via zoranm / Getty Images

Company says it wants to make 4-day work week permanent

A New Zealand company tried a 4-day work week and the results were so impressive that they’re considering making the change permanent. Even though employees at the firm Perpetual Guardian were paid for five days of work, they only worked four while also increasing productivity.

Perpetual Guardian handles trusts, wills, and estates, The New York Times reported. The company has 240 employees, who overwhelmingly loved the change because they were able to still get their job done but had more time for all the other parts of life like families, friends, exercising, grocery shopping, gardening — you get the idea. Earlier this year, the company told employees that for March and April they’d be paid for 40 hours but work 32 while researchers monitored the experiment to see what the results were. Jarrod Haar was one of the researchers who helped with the experiment. He’s also a human resources professor at Auckland University of Technology. “Supervisors said staff were more creative, their attendance was better, they were on time, and they didn’t leave early or take long breaks,” Haar told The Times. “Their actual job performance didn’t change when doing it over four days instead of five.”

Tammy Barker, a senior client manager at Perpetual Guardian, said the experiment helped her focus her concentration. “I made a point of doing one thing at a time, and turning myself back to it when I felt I was drifting off,” Barker shared. “At the end of each day, I felt I had got a lot more done.” The experiment motivated employees to increase productivity so meetings that used to last two hours were shortened to 30 minutes. People also communicated when they needed distraction-free time. “They worked out where they were wasting time and worked smarter, not harder,” Haar explained. In addition to killing it on the productivity scales, the firm’s employees reported a 24 percent increase in work-life balance. Barker, who is a mom of two, spent her extra day off dealing with errands and appointments so she had more time for her family on the weekend. Researchers said folks came back to work more energized than before thanks to the extra day off.

Perpetual Guardian isn’t the first company to try a modified work week. A cosmetics company in Austria switched to four-day work weeks and noticed a jump in sales. And Sweden switched to six-hour work days and reported the same level of productivity and in certain cases an increase in the amount of work completed. Andrew Barnes, the founder of Perpetual Guardian, decided to try the shortened work week after learning that employees typically only spend three hours of their workday being productive.

While the experiment was only approved for two months, the company loved the results so much that the board is now considering making the four-day work week a permanent change. Hopefully, more companies will take note.

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