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A four-day week is an arrangement where a workplace or school has its employees or students work or attend school over the course of four days rather than the more customary five. This arrangement can be a part of flexible working hours, and is sometimes used to cut costs, as seen in the example of the so-called "4/10 work week," where employees work a normal 40 hours across four days, i.e. a "four-ten" week.
In 2008, employees of the Utah state government all began working ten-hour days from Monday to Thursday. By closing state government offices on Fridays, the state expected to save on operating costs such as electricity, heat, air conditioning, and gasoline for state-owned vehicles. Utah ended this practice however, in 2011, with the Utah Legislature overriding Governor Gary Herbert's veto of five-day work week legislation.
Public schools in Hawaii closed on 17 Fridays in 2010. Over 100 school districts in rural areas in the United States changed the school week to a four-day week; most also extended each school day by an hour or more. The changes were often made in order to save money on transportation, heating, and substitute teachers.
More modest attempts to enact a 32-hour workweek (a four-day week and an eight-hour day combined) have remained elusive in the following 80 years despite pockets of residual support.
In Gambia, a four-day workweek was introduced for public officials by president Yahya Jammeh, effective as of 1 February 2013. Working hours became Mondays through Thursday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Friday foreseen as a day of rest to allow residents more time for prayer and agriculture. This regulation was abolished in early 2017 by his successor, president Adama Barrow, who decreed a half-day of work on Fridays.
In 2016, a IT company in Romania, declared Monday as a day-off. As a result of reducing with 20% of working time, Friday has become much more productive. The employees said that three days off actually means 50% more free time then before.
In New Zealand, trust company Perpetual Guardian announced in February 2018 that it would begin trialing a four-day work week in March 2018. Unlike many four-day week initiatives which require staff to work longer days for the same pay, or receive less pay, Perpetual Guardian’s plan, instigated by founder Andrew Barnes, saw the company’s 240-plus staff nominating and receiving a day off each week at full pay. The six week trial, held during March and April 2018, attracted international media attention In late March 2018, Barnes noted that the trial was going well with staff reporting more time for family, hobbies, ploughing through to-do lists and doing home maintenance.
The trial, which was tracked and assessed by the University of Auckland Business School and Auckland University of Technology, proved to be a resounding success and ‘a total win-win’, with Perpetual Guardian extending the four-day work week scheme permanently. The trial saw a 20% increase in productivity, 30% increase in customer engagement levels, and increased staff engagement, along with a reduction in staff stress levels and work-life balance improving by 24 percentage points. Perpetual Guardian noted that its revenue remained stable throughout the trial and costs were down, with less power used.
The trial sparked intense publicity both in New Zealand and internationally around the role of four day work weeks in the workplace of the future, and attracted government attention in New Zealand where workplace relations minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the trial was 'fascinating' and noted he was keen to work with any businesses looking to be more flexible for staff. The trial also caught the interest of the World Economic Forum – an international organisation for public-private cooperation – which noted the success of the trial and the rollout of four-day work weeks at Perpetual Guardian on a permanent basis on the weforum.org site.
The initiative has been held up by Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes as a potential way of helping to close the gender pay gap and increase diversity in the workforce, saying women should stop negotiating on hours and start negotiating on their productivity. Barnes also held the scheme up as a potential blueprint for the workplace of the future, ensuring companies were attractive to millennials and easing Auckland’s traffic congestion.
However, while four day work weeks were deemed a success for most, not everyone involved in the Perpetual Guardian trial was able to adapt, with some reporting feeling increased pressure to complete work within the shorter timeframe, particularly around deadlines. Other staff reported they were bored on their extra day away from work and missed the work environment.
The trial and subsequent rollout of the initiative at Perpetual Guardian proved a topic for plenty of discussion on social media, including Facebook and LinkedIn, where it also gained a mention on the business networking site's US Daily Rundown.
In July, Andrew Barnes discussed the trial, along with a range of other hot business topics including innovation, team engagement and leadership on High Altitude, a Kiwi big business podcast hosted by Dr John Peebles.
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