This Company Swears By a 4-Day Work Week. Now It Has Advice on How Your Employer Can Make the Switch

February 20, 2019, 11:33 AM UTC

You know the saying: Work smarter, not harder. Workers at a New Zealand company say they are more stimulated, empowered and committed after switching from a 37.5-hour work week to a four-day, 30-hour work week.

Financial services company Perpetual Guardian has made its pursuit of work-life balance a public experiment, assisted by researchers at the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology. The company’s 240 employees, whose pay remains the same, reported more work-life balance after the trial—78% compared to 54% beforehand—and less stress—38% versus 45%.

The company hopes its experience will help other companies considering making the switch to a condensed work week. Perpetual Guardian offers these guidelines in its white paper:

  • Give employees plenty of time to think about how they can work differently and
    encourage them to come up with their own measure of productivity.
  • Encourage staff to consider how they can organize time off within teams while still
    meeting customer and business imperatives.
  • Begin with a trial and engage outside consultants/academics to evaluate qualitative and
    quantitative measures of success.
  • Establish clear personal and team business goals and objectives.
  • Consider seasonal workflow differences and ensure the policy can flex appropriately.

“We want people to be the best they can be while they’re in the office, but also at home. It’s the natural solution,” Perpetual Guardian CEO Andrew Barnes said in a statement.

The idea behind the experiment came after Barnes read several research reports that suggested workplace productivity could be as low as 90 minutes per day. Last year, Fortune reported that the company’s eight-week trial went so well that the company was hoping to make the changes permanent, which it did in November.

The classic 40-hour work week is more of a concept than a reflection of reality in the U.S. A Gallup poll from 2014 found that the average full-time worker logged 47 hours per week. A study from 2016 found that Americans work on average 25% more than Europeans.

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