Work, Science, Now + Beyond

This company just proved a 4-day work week is better

...and they still paid everyone the same salary.

In today’s day and age, achieving the perfect work-life balance has become one of the most ambitious goals for millennials across the globe.

Each one of us wants to exceed professional and personal expectations in the given 24 hours. These goals range from being there for your friends and family at all times, while at the same time accomplishing career milestones. It is, however, impossible to meet these expectations when on an average of 40 hours a week is spent in offices and professional spaces, with only weekends left to cater to personal commitments.

But, imagine if our work week shifted from being five days to four days with the same pay? Sounds incredible, right? It also happens to be a phenomenal success.

leaving long weekend GIF
Image Description: Homer Simpson walking backward into a bush with the caption “Leaving work early for a 3 day weekend like” Via Giphy.com

Perpetual Guardian, a company based in New Zealand, ran a six-week productive trial on their 240 employees, converting a five-day week to a four-day week without any changes to the employees’ payroll. The result of the trial concluded with a whopping 78% employees claiming to have managed better work-life balance along with showing consistent signs of productivity.

The trial further highlighted several positive reinforcements in workspaces, where employees felt that their employers cared for their overall well-being. This meant increased job satisfaction and eventually a drop in attrition rate. In addition to that, employees were better able to concentrate on their tasks and allocate the proper amount of time to each of them, completing it within four days.

The study also concluded that workers displayed signs of better team management.

However, the most crucial aspect that the trial highlighted was that despite having a shorter working week, employees did not feel stressed out or overwhelmed by the work.

On the other hand, they displayed healthy signs of owning their assignments, executing them with minimal work demands, and an overall psychological well-being.

This trial is a beacon of hope for millions of office-goers who suffer from mental exhaustion and a critical lack of work-life balance. But before this experiment becomes a reality, there are also other important work guidelines that I believe should become the norm:

  • No compulsion to check emails after office hours: I have found this to be one of the most anxiety-inducing habits that prevent us from plugging away from work. In 2017, France passed a law that mandated companies having more than 50 employees to define hours outside of which employees were not expected to send or reply to work emails.
  • Flexible lunch hours: While having flexible working hours in corporate setups globally might be a far-fetched dream, for now, maintaining a flexible lunch hour ensures that workers can divide their time between work and breaks as per their comfort.
  • No expectation to continue work at home after office: A lot of private organizations and often senior management, expect employees to finish off tasks after working hours. This implies that one is virtually still in office, answering emails, making calls and ensuring that the work is completed before 9 am the next day. This expectation is stifling to the healthy development of an individual and his/her personal life.

Workers spend 40 hours a week at offices and must have the time to grow and develop outside their work environments. The New Zealand trial paves a way for offices around the world to make their routines more conducive towards employees’ well being.

Respecting an employee’s personal time is one of the most important features that I have begun to recognize in senior leadership. It also prevents employee fatigue and inculcates healthier relationships in professional spaces.

Employees that have better social and personal relationships generally also tend to be friendlier, more helpful and positive towards their peers.

Plus, wouldn’t it be simply great to have a TGIT than a TGIF?