The work 4 days a week get paid for 5 productivity experiment

“What we’ve done is offer our employees a more flexible arrangement whereby they can have an extra day off if they can demonstrate the same level of productivity in that time, without any change to their wages” – Andrew Barnes

Imagine working 4 days a week but getting paid for 5. It’d be a dream job, wouldn’t it? Well, that’s what Perpetual Guardian (a New Zealand company) just successfully trialled. Could this possible at your workplace?

Andrew Barnes, Managing Director of Perpetual Guardian is a trailblazer with his proactive approach to addressing productivity and work/life/balance. His research and instincts pointed to the perils of wasted productivity when working long hours. The logic seemed so overwhelming that he conducted a 2 month long experiment with the 240 staff of his New Zealand based team by trialling a 4 day work week but paying everyone for 5 days. The results concluded the trial was an outstanding success!!! So much so that a permanent 4 day work week is being put forward to the Board requesting approval.

In an article with New Zealand’s Dominion Post, the highlights Barnes shared include:

  • "Our total profitability, revenue, service standards etc, didn't drop, so as a consequence our productivity must have gone up 20 per cent”
  • "I have an empowered, energised, motivated and more loyal workforce; I'm struggling to see a downside"

Do you think a 4 day work week is possible or impossible at your workplace? The answer might not be straightforward as many aspects need to be considered, including:

  • How lean the organisation is – are processes and management structures optimal or are resources and time being wasted non-value added activities?
  • The current level of productivity – is productivity comparable to outputs by the best or is there opportunity for staff to be more productive?
  • The appetite for change – who in the organisation can adapt to change and who would require support to function effectively in the new work environment?

The overriding principle of Perpetual Guardian’s 4 day work week was 5 days of work needed to be completed in 4 days. Essentially that meant the company needed to be 20% more productive. A fundamental change was focus changed from hours input to outcomes achieved.

The Perpetual Guardian experiment proved that organisations and staff can share from the benefits of improved productivity. The potential flow on positive impact for working parents, their families and the community is significant. What would have to happen at your workplace for staff to work 4 days a week but get paid for 5?