Working a job that is free of stress is rare, however there’s an easy way to make your current job less stressful: work four days instead of five. This is obvious, but what might not be obvious to some is that a four day work week is just as productive as a five day week. One of the largest companies in New Zealand tested a four day week with their employees and found great success and now other companies are looking to them to learn about it.
Analysis of one of the biggest trials yet of the four-day working week has revealed no fall in output, reduced stress and increased staff engagement, fuelling hopes that a better work-life balance for millions could be in sight.
Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand financial services company, switched its 240 staff from a five-day to a four-day week last November and maintained their pay. Productivity increased in the four days they worked so there was no drop in the total amount of work done, a study of the trial released on Tuesday has revealed.
The trial was monitored by academics at the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology. Among the Perpetual Guardian staff they found scores given by workers about leadership, stimulation, empowerment and commitment all increased compared with a 2017 survey.
People who aren’t slaves to the 9-5 world (or worse the 8-8 crowd) may not understand the tyranny of the week. Those poor folks who are forced by their managers and bosses to slave away at set hours and times. Sometimes the best time to do something may not be during the working window.
There are many benefits to having varying work schedules. For one, rush hour wouldn’t be so bad for those suffering from commuterism. There are plenty of other reasons too, which are addressed in a recent article from Slate:
But there’s nothing inevitable about the ceaseless repetition of six days of work, one day of rest. As labor has become both more productive and more organized, the week has evolved. The writer Witold Rybczynski traces the emergence of the weekend to 19th century England, when the British agricultural revolution made land and labor more productive. At first, Rybczynski relates, this allowed workers extra leisure, which they enjoyed spontaneously—not according to any ironclad schedule. As the Industrial Revolution became a driving force in trans-Atlantic civilization, the push for greater efficiency demanded standardization of this extra leisure. In 1926, Henry Ford began shutting his factories on Saturdays in a bid to crystallize an American convention of a two-day weekend full of recreation (that he hoped would involve driving). It worked.
Are you living in a shotgun shack, are you living in another part of the world, or are you behind the wheel of a large automobile? Ever wonder how did you get here?
Well as the days go by we tend to get caught up in the mundane activities of working culture. To ensure that you don’t waste your life in a cubicle farm (or something similar) try taking a week off to just think.
It was an enlightening experience that allowed me to make a clear decision on what I wanted to do next with my personal and professional life.
In an age where we are connecting to everything through our phones, internet, facebook, twitter, etc; we are constantly being interrupted. A couple of years ago, I heard a statistic that having a Blackberry is equivalent to smoking two joints because you are always being interrupted, and never really “here”. Just think about that for a second.
By disconnecting from the world, time moved really slow. I really got to enjoy the moment, which we often neglect in our chaotic worlds. This is the time worth cherishing, which is more valuable than the time that flies by because you’re working hard on something “you’re passionate” about.
Working full time can easily drain one’s life, so don’t do it. The state of Utah now has their government employees work only four days a week and everyone’s loving it. Perhaps during this time of economic recovery we can negotiate a better people-friendly work week for the labour force.
A whole series of unexpected benefits started to emerge. The number of sick days claimed by workers fell by 9 per cent. Air pollution fell, since people were spending 20 per cent less time in their cars. Some 17,000 tonnes of warming gases were kept out of the atmosphere. They have a new slogan in Utah – Thank God It’s Thursday.
But wouldn’t people be irritated that they couldn’t contact their state authorities on a Friday? Did the standard of service fall? It was a real worry when the programme started. But before, people had to take time off work to contact the authorities, since they were only open during work hours. Now they were open for an hour before work and an hour after it. It actually became easier to see them Monday to Thursday: waiting times for state services have fallen.
Think of it as the anti-Dolly Parton manifesto, puncturing her famous song: “Workin’ 9 to 5/ What a way to make a livin’/ Barely gettin’ by/ Its enough to drive you/ Crazy if you let it…” A queue of US cities and corporations like General Motors are following suit, and Britain’s councils and companies should be sweeping in behind them. It’s a win-win-win – good for employees, good for employers and good for the environment.
And once we started on this course, it could spur us to think in more radical ways about work. If this tiny little tinker with work routines leads to a big burst of human happiness and environmental sanity, what could bigger changes achieve?