18 Jul 2018

Four-day week. Yes we can!

From Nine To Noon, 9:08 am on 18 July 2018

Financial services firm Perpetual Guardian is reporting happier staff and no drop in productivity after its landmark trial of a four day week.

Team succes. Photo young business crew working with new startup project. Notebook on wood table.  Analyze plans hands, keyboard.

Photo: 123rf

The New Zealand company introduced the trial for eight weeks in April with more than 200 workers in its six offices cutting their hours but remaining on five days a week pay.

Company founder Andrew Barnes said initial concerns that work would not be completed in a 32-hour week were quickly allayed.

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Graphic: Supplied / Perpetual Guardian

"The first reaction is, 'We can't do that, we've got customers to serve, how could we possibly do it?' You might be surprised."

Mr Barnes said staff reported a better work-life balance, less job stress and improved performance, along with a slight increase in productivity.

Auckland University of Technology human resource management professor Jarrod Haar was extremely positive about what he found when he analysed the trial.

While the company's performance generally remained the same or improved, staff were happy being able to do more outside of work.

"The parents said, 'Yes, I've spent time with my children, I've gone to a school event'" he said.

"The non-parents ... said, 'Look I was able to get into the garden because that's something I really enjoy'. Or, 'I exercised - I went for a run, I went to the gym - and I just have so much more energy'."

Perpetual Guardian is reviewing the results of the trial four days weeks may become the norm at the company.