If you work for a company with summer hours, you might think you’re getting a pretty good deal. But even if your employer lets you work a shorter week, they probably expect you to make it up by working longer hours during those days. You’re not getting a four-day workweek as much as a five-day week compressed into four.
But not at one New Zealand company. Perpetual Guardian, which manages trusts, ran an experiment reducing their workweek from 40 to 32 hours while paying employees the same wage as before. Researchers analyzed the results.
“Supervisors said staff were more creative, their attendance was better, they were on time, and they didn’t leave early or take long breaks,” Jarrod Haar, a human resources professor at Auckland University of Technology, told The New York Times. “Their actual job performance didn’t change when doing it over four days instead of five.”
Perpetual Guardian’s 240 employees told the Times that they spent their extra time off “more time with their families, exercising, cooking, and working in their gardens.”
The Four-Day Workweek: How Less Can Be More
It’s no surprise that employees like working fewer hours for the same pay. The twist is that this experiment — and others like it — seems to show that shorter working hours don’t negatively impact productivity.
Other research has shown that office workers are productive for about six hours a day (or even less, depending on the study). And there’s plenty of evidence showing that people are more productive when they have better work-life balance.
Workers at Perpetual Guardian seem to have used the experiment as inspiration to work smarter, not harder. For example, the Times notes that many workers opted to shorten two-hour meetings to half an hour – something that would make many of us a lot happier at work, shorter week or not.
Then there’s the fact that most office jobs involve a substantial amount of wasted time, whether it’s two-hour-long meetings that could be shaved down to a cool 30 minutes or endless time chatting with cubicle-mates with no goal in sight.
Could this experiment work at your workplace? Probably you’re more than willing to try. Convincing the boss, on the other hand, might be a bit tricky.
Tell Us What You Think
What do you think of this experiment — would it help you to be more productive in less time? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.