A New Zealand Company That Tested a Four-Day Work Week May Make It Permanent

July 23, 2018, 1:27 PM UTC

A company in New Zealand that tested a four-day work week on its employees says the trial run was such a success that they may make the practice permanent.

Perpetual Guardian, which helps New Zealanders handle their wills, trusts, and estate plans, released a report last week detailing how the six-week trial increased employee productivity, led to better work-life balance, and reduced stress levels. Throughout the trial, which ran from March 5, 2018 to late April, employees were still paid for five days worth of work.

“An enduring theme across all groups is that the individuals had more time to accomplish tasks in their personal lives that are often ‘crammed in’, ‘put off’ or ‘rushed between’ in the busyness of a 5-day work schedule,” reported Dr. Helen Delaney of the University of Auckland Business School, one of the researchers who supervised the experiment. “Many reported a satisfaction with accomplishing these personal tasks, and this feeling spilled over to the workplace as an overarching feeling of motivation and productivity.”

The more than 240 employees who took part in the experiment reported a 7% decrease in a stress levels, a 24% increase in work-life balance, and a 20% increase in team engagement on average.

According to Perpetual Guardian. the idea behind the experiment came around last Christmas, when company CEO Andrew Barnes read several research reports that suggested workplace productivity could be as low as 90 minutes per day. In his exploration of why productivity is so limited, Barnes came to the idea of the four-day work week experiment.

“This is an important pact between you and I,” Barnes said at a company-wide meeting in February where the experiment was announced. “This is over to you. We are going to give you the responsibility to figure out how this works for each team, how productivity stays up, and how we can continue to deliver to our customers despite the changing work hours.”

After the conclusion of the experiment, Barnes told CNN that he recommended to the company’s board that the four-day work week be made permanent.