A company in New Zealand decided to test if the four-day work week was beneficial to business. Everything stayed the same, including salary, except employees were working one day less. The experiment lasted for eight weeks and proved that the work-life balance had increased from 54 percent to 78 percent. Stress levels had declined, and most importantly, the job performance wasn’t affected. In fact, it became mildly better.
After two months of trial, the company will be scheduling the four-day week permanently.
Productivity lasts less than 3 hours a day
The CEO of the company, Andrew Barnes, was reading about a research project which revealed that employees are only productive for 2.5 hours a day. This is what made him consider a four-day week as an option. Andrew claimed that it was an experiment of his to see if an extra day off on a regular basis could actually make people more productive, while letting them deal with their personal matters outside of the office.
Efficiency didn’t fail
The main concern was related with time management: how to keep productivity up while working 20 percent less. It was discovered that many small inefficiencies occur on a daily basis, which are never addressed because they are too small to spend valuable time on.
As we can imagine, a shorter work week improved time management and concentration: people started spending less time in meetings and on social media. Employees also started using common indicators such as flags on their desks which showed when somebody could be interrupted by another colleague. Moreover, having less people in the office (the company let their employees choose Friday or Wednesday as a day off) affected the environment positively – it became more silent and focused. People actually managed to do five days work in just four days.
Satisfaction & quality
Even though the job satisfaction level is quite high in the company, it was raised even higher. Employees’ satisfaction in their lives were also enriched. In addition, the perception of workload improved and job-related stress decreased by 7 percent. The engagement and commitment went up by 20 percent. Employees started seeing their work as more meaningful to them; the confidence among the hierarchy structure became stronger; individual roles started being appreciated more.
When it comes to the payment, Andrew Barnes believes that people must be paid the same amount of money even though they work 20 percent less. It is all about productivity. His advice is “to negotiate on productivity–hours are irrelevant.”
Planning is the key
If any company wants to have a shorter work week and ensure the same productivity and efficiency, then planning is mandatory. Employees must be authorized to find new ways to do all the work. At this stage, it is very important to make everyone aware what is happening and what needs to be done to successfully implement this change, otherwise it might fail.
There are some skeptical opinions about the four-day work week such as the application of overloaded companies where one person is doing the work of two people. Nevertheless it’s worth a try, since it is also believed that this method should be suitable for many office jobs.