A company in New Zealand recently trialed a four-day working week, finding productivity skyrocketed. But what would you do with an extra day every week?
Having an extra day off every week might seem like a pipe dream, but it may be closer than you think… if a study in New Zealand is anything to go on, at least.
Two-hundred-and-forty staff at a firm in the country trialed a four-day working week between March and April this year. They worked four, eight-hour days but got paid for five – and the results may seem surprising.
The study found that stimulation, commitment and a sense of empowerment at work all improved.
Perhaps less surprisingly, staff stress levels also dropped by 7 percentage points – and 78% of employees said they felt they were able to successfully manage their work-life balance, an increase of 24 percentage points compared to working five days a week.
Helen Delaney, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland Business School, said:
“Employees designed a number of innovations and initiatives to work in a more productive and efficient manner, from automating manual processes to reducing or eliminating non-work-related internet usage.”
Three day weekend
The company who ran the trial said they were now considering rolling it out all the time.
So does that mean a four-day-working-week, or even less, could soon be making an appearance in workplaces in the UK? It may not be as far fetched as it sounds.
The idea’s been brought up in the UK before. The Green Party proposed a 35-hour working week in 2017.
And the economics think tank, the New Economics Foundation, argue that a 21-hour working week is the answer, in their words, to “a range of urgent, interlinked problems”.
They say that a much shorter working week would distribute work more evenly across the population, reducing both unemployment and overwork, as well as reducing the amount of unpaid work done by employees.
According to a manager at the New Zealand company who did the study, participants used the third day off to “train for marathons, go to the dentist, get their car serviced [and] do the shopping for their elderly parents.”
“All the stuff that has been put on the back burner, but either helps themselves or their family. Life administration,” they continued.
That extra day a week off would be a good for consumers. Who wouldn’t want more time to shop, go out, get on with some life admin, do some gardening or DIY and just enjoy themselves generally?
It’d also be good for shops and services themselves and could help revitalise our high streets – people often choosing to shop online to save time.
And if productivity remained the same (as the study suggested), that extra consumer spending on goods and services could even boost the economy. Or is that going a bit far?
What would you do with the extra time off? Would you benefit from more free time for ‘life admin’? Do you think it would make you more productive in the other four days a week?