A 4-day workweek is probably the dream scenario for many full-time employees. With work/life balance an increasing desire for employees who juggle personal and professional responsibilities, having more time to pursue personal and leisure interests is an obvious desire.
For employees in New Zealand, it’s also a reality for some, according to Sarah Berger. Berger recently reported on the success story of a kiwi company that experimented with a 4-day workweek and found pretty positive results.
A Case Study for the 4-Day Workweek
The company is called Perpetual Guardian. The 240-employee firm manages wills, trusts, and estates. Perpetual Guardian recently completed a 2-month trial period where employees worked 4 days per week instead of the usual 5. Their pay remained the same.
The experiment started with Perpetual giving employees a month to prepare by putting productivity measures in place to get a baseline. Employees completed a survey both before and after the trial to gauge productivity. The results showed an improvement in productivity with the 4-day workweek with no dip in performance.
The results were so positive, in fact, that Perpetual’s management is considering implementing the change permanently.
As a side benefit, simply gearing up for the trial period actually helped boost efficiency for the organization. “The planning phase before the trial also had a beneficial impact on the behavior of employees in the workplace,” says Berger. “The qualitative analysis of the study found that the planning discussions pre-trial actually resulted in more employees implementing new ways to be more efficient in the workplace.”
Employees found ways to increase productivity by automating manual processes, holding shorter and more focused meetings, combining meal breaks with work activities and eliminating non-work-related Internet use, among other strategies.
Could a Shorter Workweek Work for You?
A 4-day workweek might make many managers scoff at first, but the New Zealand experiment by Perpetual Guardian is at least one example of how working less doesn’t necessarily mean getting less done.
Perpetual Guardian’s approach to the issue can serve as a good best practice guide for others. With a focus on maintaining productivity and production while boosting employee satisfaction, companies can begin to experiment to see how more flexibility—and more time off—could benefit them, and their employees.