11 October 2018

Does a 4-day week really work?

Have you seen some of the media about the 4-day week that Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand financial services

http://www.4dayweek.co.nz/

Family and Work Can Be Balanced

company, experimented with earlier this year?

Their CEO Andrew Barnes and his partner Charlotte Lockhart are personal friends, so it’s been a great chance to get an insider view of the company’s learnings, observations and next steps.

So, what about this 4-day working week? Does it really work?

The answer is a resounding Yes!

Perpetual Guardian started an eight-week trial in March and are now going to install it as a permanent feature, starting in November. Following are some of the key points I gleaned from Charlotte and Andrew in early October.

Set-up and Structure:

  • Conversations started with the management team in late January.
  • At the beginning of February all staff were given a month to explore, in their teams and with their managers, how they could make it work.
  • The trial was not optional. However, what was optional was how they did it. This was an important element. Each team was given freedom to come up with the solutions relevant to their work, rather than arbitrary processes thrust upon them.
  • It wasn’t a case of working four x ten-hour days. It was ‘same hours as usual, but if you can find ways to work more efficiently, your reward is an extra day off per week – at full pay.’
  • All management were also strongly encouraged to participate.


Results:

  • Almost all teams managed to find efficiencies and streamline their work.
  • Examples: social media use at work dropped by 35%, there was a 7% reduction in stress, and 78% of employees say they managed their work/life balance better.
  • Productivity increased slightly, even though they had less time to get their work done.
  • Better staff engagement; they had to work together in order to cover all their commitments. One example was negotiation over which day of the week each person took off. Another was how to manage small regional offices, where some have only two staff. Small offices collaborated with each other so that a senior and more junior person were available via phone and internet for all requests. The location was not the key factor – the service to the customers was.
  • New ways of being efficient suddenly became high priority, rather than putting up with slow processes. For example, one woman had previously put up with a clunky process. When a few bright heads got together to trim time off, with better technology they were able to turn a 1½ hour task into a really quick activity taking only ten minutes.
  • The firm realised that seasonal pressures meant that, for one team, Trust Accounting, it’s impossible to achieve the four-day target in March/April when most New Zealand businesses have their year-end. The company is working with this team to find a relevant solution to this particular problem.
  • Auckland University of Technology and The University of Auckland ran pre- and post- tests to measure productivity. (Perpetual Guardian’s recommendation is, for anyone else considering the same idea, to do the pre-commencement test before announcing that your firm is considering it.) By the time the testers ran the first test, the teams had already begun actively looking for better ways to do things. This independent research was important.


What’s Next:

  • The system will be permanently in place by November this year. However, it’s now an individual opt-in. The opt-in is reviewed annually, and the productivity will be reviewed monthly. Each team will manage its opt-ins and its opt-outs and manage the reporting of its productivity.
  • The extra day off is a gift that can be taken away, not something that will automatically continue from now as of right.
  • The measure is how a team, not an individual, performs. They’re still expected to achieve the same results. The encouragement was, and will continue to be, how to be as effective and efficient as possible, rather than putting up with ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’. So, it’s not bosses applying pressure to perform, but colleagues supporting each other so everyone in the team can get their free day.
  • If a team fails to meet their agreed KPIs and loses their day off, the company will work with them to help get back on track.
  • Andrew’s initiative has caught the imagination of global media. BBC, CNN, the Guardian, New York Times … and the list grows daily. Check the media here. Even Australian comedian Jim Jefferies picked it up – very humorously. Check out Are Americans Obsessed With Work?’  (Warning: In true Aussie style he grabs the chance to take a swipe at all Kiwis!) Don’t expect PG to take that lying down. 😊

My Observations:

In the twenty-six years since I began working in the field of personal productivity I’ve seen a dramatic shift in ways of work, facilitated by the increased simplicity and decreased costs of international communications.  Over-work, stress, increasingly compromised work-life balance – all these are common consequences of the way work is now done.

Every trend eventually forces a reaction. Many individuals and companies have been sucked in by the insidious ease with which work can seep into all our waking hours. Others, more alert to the dangerous trend, have made a conscious decision not to allow work-creep to take over their lives. However, the ones who’ve actively chosen to resist the trend are relatively few; quiet voices trying to be heard in a thunderstorm of societal expectations. For some years thoughtful people around the world have been kicking against this epidemic of overwork. One example is US organisation  Take Back Your Time.org. Another is Australian ex-Microsoft VP Daniel Petre, who gained a lot of notice in the late 1990s when he wrote  Father Time , about how dysfunctional work practices disconnect fathers from their families. And now we’ve got a company with a high-profile CEO and the balls to join the movement back to saner work practices.

Have you heard of Lean process improvement? Basically, it’s the constant search for continuous improvement and a focus on cutting out waste. Most companies link their improvements to improved customer experiences or better rewards for the shareholders. Sometimes there’s also financial rewards to the staff. Typically, however, the worker bees are encouraged to keep beating their wings – just better and faster, not less. Although Perpetual Guardian have applied that thinking, what they’ve done differently is link it to a really attractive reward.

Andrew’s philosophy is: ‘Corporate responsibility doesn’t stop at the factory gate.’  It’s not a new message, but it is very refreshing to find a company and a CEO who put it into practice rather than just mouthing platitudes in corporate mission statements. He wants his staff to be not only great at work, but also great at home and in their communities. Plenty of large corporates invest in giving staff nice benefits, but expect ridiculous hours in return. What Perpetual Guardian has done instead is give their people something money can’t buy – time.

A challenge: If your company could achieve good results with less time at the coal-face, why insist they sit at their desks unnecessarily? Let people have a life and you’ll get better results with people who are fresher, happier and more productive.

This is a bigger conversation than just what one company in the bottom of the world is doing.  It is an idea whose time has come.

To all the lateral thinkers/implementers of the world – we need you.


1 thought on “Does a 4-day week really work?”

  1. This is fantastic news. Everyone wins – family, staff, the company. I am sure that because of the better work / like balance the absenteeism/ sickies will also be less.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.




Are your days too short, workload too large and work-life balance a pipe dream?

Take a look at these Books, E-books, CDs/Teleseminars, Online Courses/Webinars and Tools. They provide practical, effective and easy to implement ways for you to free up your time, improve your productivity and reduce stress from overload.



Webmasters/Ezine Publishers: Would you like to use this article?
You are invited to use any of our articles in your publication or website. The only requirements are that we are included on your mailing list, and that you include the following, after each article you use...

Robyn Pearce CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is the Time Queen. She mastered her own time challenges and now helps people around the world overcome theirs. She can show you how to transform your time challenges into high productivity and the life balance you desire.

Get your free report 'How To Master Time In Only 90 Seconds' and ongoing time tips at gettingagrip.com.

© All Rights Reserved to Robyn Pearce, GettingAGrip.com, 25 Keven Road, R.D.4, Pukekohe, South Auckland 2679, New Zealand Ph.+ 64 9 232 0523


If you'd like Robyn to write something specific for your industry, please email us with your request.

Get Your Free
'How To Master Time'
Report

Image

Plus your FREE Time Resources Pack (Valued at $227)




Image

Client Testimonials

Catalyst For Efficiency ImprovementsIt was great to introduce our two job-share receptionists to Robyn’s Getting a Grip on The Paper War text.  It became a catalyst for us to improve our administration proce..." Marie Collins, Business Manager, The NZ Institute of Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery

Enhanced Efficiency Thank you for all the tips and words of advice you and your team have sent through.I have been constantly reading it and it does wonders to my line of work and also being a wife and mot..." Anaseini Liku, Communication & Media Coordinator, Ministry of Education, Cook Islands

Clear Directions Enhance Use Of TimeI have just finished reading 'Getting a Grip on Time' and 'Getting a Grip on the Paper War'.  Particularly your book on 'Time' got me back on track, and during the day I catc..." Ingrid Geerlings, Owner, www.houseofmilk.com

Leadership Book Helps To find the Real Me‘I’ve just been reading ‘Getting a grip on Leadership’.  It is very good and has had an impact on me.  I realised I’d lost my way a bit re who I am ..." Heather Millar, Manager, Professional Practice, Central North Island Kindergarten Association, New Zealand

Additional $120,000 Billed After Time Management CourseI have personally known Robyn Pearce for around 16 years. From time to time my firm has contracted Robyn on a project basis to work with our professional staff as well as partners in the fi..." John Hackett, Partner, A J Park, New Zealand

The Librarian Who Got Her Life Back!The kick-start that I needed was delivered by a velvet glove, but make no mistake the iron hand within the glove ensured that the message was received and understood. If you are going to spend some..." Heather Jenks, Associate University Librarian (Research and Learning Services), University of Canterbury

Increasing Personal Confidence And Job ManagementHaving worked already very successfully with our NZ Team, Robyn's support of the Australian Team over a 12-month period was fundamental to helping us cope with increased day to day workload - espec..." Julia Braun, General Manager - Marketing, Beiersdorf Australia

A Great Empathy And Affinity With PeopleI have used Robyn as an Executive Coach for key Senior Staff for a number of years now and couldn't recommend her more highly. I've found as people step up in the organisation they often struggle t..." Merilyn Havler, Then General Manager, Beiersdorf New Zealand

An Increase of 30% In Gross Turnover Due To Better SystemsWhen we reviewed the progress made as a result of your concepts, a staggering number of them had become an integral part of our day to day business, collectively making a huge difference to our eff..." Wayne & Lisa Hughes, Occupational Therapy Helping Children, NSW, Australia

Motivational And Thought Provoking SessionI'd like to highlight the benefits felt both by the staff members attending your sessions, and the motivational flow-on effects experienced throughout the Hotel.In the developmental sta..." Human Resources Manager, Wentworth Hotel (part of the Rydges chain)

Successful Paper Management Seminar Thank you for your interesting and indeed challenging speech. I could see all the people who've ..." Australian Institute of Credit Managers, Sydney Branch

Personalised Seminar For Long-term Results On behalf of the team at Strategic Lifestyle Management and our client Lend Lease I would..." SLM Conference and Incentive Manager, for client Lend Lease

Excellent Skilful Presenter "Thank you for the practical and informative Time Management seminar you recently gave to our senior m..." HR Manager, ANA Hotel, Sydney

Improve Your Organisation And Productivity The response to the program was extremely positive, with an average rating of 4.4 out of ..." Noel Cook, GM, Outdoor Network, Australia

Organisational Skills Improve To Lift Productivity Your time management seminars are one of the best things we've ever done. Weeks l..." Centrelink, Dubbo, New South Wales

Productivity Increased 50% Now several months later and my productivity has increased between 30% and 50%. I'm seeing more and bette..." Senior financial planner, IPAC, Australia

Timesaving Techniques Learned A wonderful surprise to learn how much I had improved since the first programme with you nine months a..." National Sales Manager, Personal Insurance, GIO Australia

Control Gained In Managing Time Feedback from the staff was very positive... all felt they had gained a great deal of control and di..." MD, C.Y. O'Connor College of TAFE, Northam, WA

Immediate Action For Change A lot of great new ideas and some very good new tools that I shall start implementing immediately. Group Services Trainer, Adecco

Increased Efficiency Saves 20-25 Minutes A Day "Many practical hints which helped me reorganise my office, to operate efficiently." ..." Senior Partner, Baldwins (Patent Attorneys)

Invaluable Resources In Time Management Books I would like to take this opportunity to commend you on the flexibility of your approach, and..." Human Resources Manager, Professional Services Review, Canberra

Self Management Crucial In Time Management You presented a most informative and challenging training session. Your ability to gain q..." Human Resources Manager, Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal of NSW

'Time Management Guru'! Once again you combine an enthusiastic presentation style with useful tips and techniques. Succinct and fun ..." Manager - Training & Development, Real Estate Institute of NSW

Beneficial Time Management Ideas Your presentation was brilliant, and your thoughts on how to make time management beneficial to eve..." Barbara McCarthy, President, Chatswood Chamber of Commerce, Sydney

Informative And Energising Speech We could not have chosen better. Your contribution was just what we wanted and needed, and I was t..." Raewyn James, Tamaki Teachers' Conference

Positive Feedback For Speech Robyn, you gave a fantastic speech, and I am still having positive feedback about your talk to this day..." Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator, Swiss Grand Hotel, Bondi, and co-ordinator of Eastern Suburbs Women's Breakfast

Work Life Balance Put Into Practice I know everyone who attended was fascinated by all your planning tips and I know many have put t..." Solo Home Business Network, Sydney

IT Company Gains Insight Into Effective Time Management We were very impressed... everyone gained considerable insight to effective ..." MD, IT software company, Auckland

Professional Approach Reinforces Time Management Principles Following a number of very positive reference checks we invited Robyn Pe..." Godfrey Pembroke National Conference, Hobart, Tasmania

Staff Queue For Time Management Tips! "Thank you! I'm sure you could tell from everyone's enthusiasm that they enjoyed your presenta..." Programme Director, Pioneer SWAP

Specific Personalised Advice Benefits Group Robyn gave much more than the professional information imparted in this kind of session...." Principal Heritage Officer, Heritage Council NSW

They're 'screaming for more'! Thanks for your wonderful presentation. I've had a lot of positive feedback from our staff, and they c..." GM's assistant, Austereo, Australia

L.J. Hooker Predicts Great Success In Using Their Time Your down-to-earth common sense certainly hit home to a lot of people, and the feedba..." Lyn McDermott, Ass. Director, Marketing and Communication, L.J. Hooker Ltd

5 Stars For Time Management Course Robyn, in light of this morning's session (and comments about short emails!) I could leave it the..." Wilf Marley, Principal, Marley Loft Systems (Accountants)

Simple Practical Action Steps For Work Life Balance We've had great feedback since your last session with the NZ Institute of Charte..." Denise Bovaird, Past President, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants

Improved Focus And Concentration After Time Management Course Since your time management course our managers have found that they ca..." John Moore, Then-HR Manager, International Cricket Council, Dubai

Jam-packed Personalised Seminar Very Effective   Robyn spoke to four of my Academy groups in the space of 11 days. I wa..." Barrie Barrett, Chairman, Academy for Chief Executives, United Kingdom

Awesome says Law Clerk, Bell Gully I just thought I'd spend a few minutes in the Proactive/Value-adding quadrant and let you know ho..." Law Clerk, Bell Gully, New Zealand

Excellent 'Management' Course, As Well As 'Time Management' I would like to extend a huge thank you for making your valuable time av..." David Greenslade, Managing Director, Strategi, New Zealand

We've Regained 30% Of The Time We Used to Lose! Since we worked with Robyn 5 months ago our team of 12 underwriters and support staf..." Senior Underwriter, QBE Insurance, New Zealand

Fantastic Course - Team Feedback Extremely Positive! Thanks very much for the Time Management programme you have conducted over the ..." Gareth McCulloch, National Sales Manager, Southern Hospitality Limited

 
Timely appointment scheduling system