What if you could boost productivity and customer engagement, but cut back to a four-day work week? Some businesses are doing just that.
Following a recent trial of a four-day work week, which made headlines around the world, New Zealand corporate trustee company Perpetual Guardian has made the four-day work week permanent for its 240 employees. But should other businesses be considering it?
Andrew Barnes, the CEO of Perpetual Guardian, got the idea to trial a four-day work week from global reports on productivity, including a study of workers in the UK public service which found they were performing just under three hours of productive work per day.
Barnes is hardly a radical. When living in Australia, he floated realestate.com.au on the ASX in 1999 and held senior roles in companies including Macquarie Bank. He thought a shorter working week might be a way to get employees to “be the best they can be while they’re in the office, but also at home”.
“As a professor of human resource management, the challenge is to get more firms to give more attention to work-life balance, so when I read about Perpetual Guardian’s idea for a trial, I invited myself to the party,” says Jarrod Haar, Professor of Human Resource Management at the Auckland University of Technology.
Haar offered to conduct quantitative and some qualitative analysis before and after the trial.
When the trial started, Haar says many employees questioned how they could do their work in four days, and some managers didn’t think it would work.