How would you like to have an extra day off work every single week?
Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand company that manages wills, trusts and estates, is going where no company has gone before — four-day work week territory.
The company tested a “four days on, three days off” schedule for six weeks back in March and April. Despite working for four days, employees were still paid for five days of work. The experiment proved to be a success in terms of work-life balance and happier employees, and the company is making the four-day schedule a permanent option for its 240 employees.
Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes said he sees this new work schedule as a win-win for productivity and overall employee satisfaction.
“For us, this is about our company getting improved productivity from greater workplace efficiencies … there’s no downside for us,” he told The Guardian.
The trial allowed employees to opt-in to testing out a four-day work week that still garnered five days’ pay. The aim was to test productivity, stress levels and more.
According to a press release, Barnes was “inspired to conduct the trial by several global productivity reports and [the company’s] recent internal survey, which asked staff how productivity, innovation and engagement can grow.”
The theory was that more time to enjoy life outside of the office would yield better work when the employees are on the clock.
“If employees are engaged with their job and employer, they are more productive,” Christine Brotherton, Head of People and Capability at Perpetual Gurdian, said of the trial in the press release. “We believe efficiency will come with more staff focus and motivation, and this trial is a valuable and timely way to test our theories,”
According to New Zealand’s News Hub, the days off were not on Fridays or Mondays — offering three-day weekends. Instead, the days were staggered throughout the middle of the week:
Two New Zealand academics were in charge of collecting data before and during the trial period and compiling a report. They found mostly positive results, although some employees said they felt more stress over trying to get the same amount of work done in less time. Last year, before the trial, 54 percent of Perpetual Guardian employees said they felt they could juggle life and work. However, that amount jumped to 78 percent after the trial ended.
Stress levels saw a decrease of 7 percent and overall happiness, empowerment and enjoyment with life and work raised 5 percent. So, it’s no wonder Perpetual Guardian wants to keep this new schedule in place!
“The right attitude is a requirement to make it work – everyone has to be committed and take it seriously for us to create a viable long-term model for our business,” Barnes told the Sydney Morning Herald, adding that workers must meet their productivity goals.
Other Companies Offering Perks
While other companies may not have adopted a four-day work week just yet, there seems to be a trend towards encouraging employees to take time away from work for their own mental well-being.
Airbnb, The Motley Fool, Moz and SteelHouse are just a few employers that basically pay employees to use their vacation time or provide other incentives to take time off.
So, if you’re in search of work-life balance, you may want to seek out companies that are ahead of the curve in this regard. And if you happen to love your job, but wouldn’t mind having an extra day off a week or a little more vacation time — forward this article to your boss as a gentle nudge in the right direction!