The 4 day workweek – not an unrealistic fantasy after all - S8 Expert Recruitment Solutions

The 4 day workweek – not an unrealistic fantasy after all


The 4 day workweek – not an unrealistic fantasy after all

By now you’d all be pretty familiar with my push for flexibility in the workplace. I’m a strong advocate for flexible hours, part-time work and working remotely and I’m convinced these options provide greater opportunities for employees as well as the potential for a more positive work environment. With that in mind, you’d be unsurprised to hear that I was particularly interested in a NZ study which considered the benefits of implementing a 4 day workweek.

Towards the end of last year, New Zealand Company Perpetual Guardian undertook a two month trial of a 4 day workweek for their 240 staff. Monitored by academics at the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology, the results were overwhelmingly positive.

Company founder Andrew Barnes gave his employees the opportunity to opt into the trial, offering them a 30 hour workweek instead of the traditional 37.5 hours. Despite the reduced hours, staff received an unchanged salary and were not expected to complete any work on the 5th day. The only catch? Employees were given a month to prepare for this change and each team within the business had to come up with their own strategies to manage the reduced hours.

So, what did they find? Productivity went up 20% while staff reported feeling less stressed, more stimulated, empowered and committed and unsurprisingly their feelings of achieving work-life balance went up over 20% too. In fact, results were so positive that the company has decided to roll out this change permanently.

One of the interesting things the trial discovered was that staff reported that greater levels of support and teamwork were needed amongst employees. One of the challenges they overcame for this trial to be a success was ensuring the needs of their customers were met, 5 days a week. To do this, the 4 day weeks were staggered amongst team members with some people taking Monday off while others had Friday. This meant that deadlines became more of a team vs individual focus and resulted in work being shared among the team as required.

Finally, it was also reported that by allowing employees to plan their own management of the reduced work hours led to a greater sense of autonomy and feelings of empowerment within the office.

Although I’m a huge supporter of this initiative, there is a chance that this 4 day workweek won’t always be such a positive result. It’s not impossible for the shine to wear off and employees to become complacent leading to a decline in productivity. However, it is reasonable to conclude that these incredible results make it a risk worth taking. With some clear structure around how the reduced hours were enacted and regular reporting and monitoring, any declines or changes in attitude can be swiftly identified and addressed.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this one! Would you, as an employee like to see something like this rolled out in your workplace? Do you think your role would function just as effectively in 4 days? And, what about those employers out there, is this something your office may be able to trial? Do you think a shorter week could be beneficial to your team?


Shannon Wood, Managing Director S8 Expert Recruitment Solutions. I have over 14 years recruitment experience specialising in the animal health industry across the ANZ region. Areas of expertise include sales and marketing, technical roles (Quality Assurance, Quality Control & Regulatory Affairs) and operational & financial positions. I work extensively in the veterinary, ruminant, monogastric, aquaculture and the pet specialty industries and I look forward to the next 14 years.


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