You Can Get More Done in a 4-Day Workweek. Really.
Near the end of 2017, on a long-haul flight from Auckland to London for a Christmas break with my children, I was catching up on work-related reading when a magazine article caught my eye. The article detailed the results of a study of UK office workers which found that on average they were productive for fewer than three hours a day. My mind turned to my own business, a trust company called Perpetual Guardian that employed about 240 people, and to whether we had real measures of productivity across all aspects of our business.
I realized we did not. In response, I decided to run an experiment at Perpetual Guardian for an eight-week period in early 2018, based on the following agreement with my employees: 100% of the agreed output in 80% of the time, for 100% compensation.
In other words, we would try the four-day week to see if it was a way of working better suited for the 21st century, measuring worker value not by hours at a desk or on the shop floor but by productivity. In experimenting with this new way of working, we sought to understand what effect a four-day week might have on individual, team, and company output; profitability, and employee engagement; job satisfaction and well-being.
We knew that to make a four-day week work in practice, we needed to concern ourselves with all the time-wasting activities that find their way into the workday — the personal texts, calls, and emails; the web browsing and overlong meetings; the unnecessary conversations and general office habits that do not amount to anything productive.
The trial so soundly proved the viability of the four-day week that we implemented a four-day week permanently on an opt-in basis.
We also knew we needed robust and substantive data, and we ensured the trial was monitored by academics from the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology (AUT) who produced qualitative and quantitative reports recording any changes in staff engagement, job satisfaction, well-being, team cohesion, and a host of other metrics.