It turns out that working less may inspire creativity and a desire to work harder. As an experiment, a company in New Zealand decided to cut a day from its workweek for a period of eight weeks to see what effect it had on its employees.
By giving its 240 staff members more time off — while keeping their paychecks unchanged — financial service experts Perpetual Guardian found that the shorter workweek didn’t effect output whatsoever. Instead, it had the opposite effect. Productivity rose 20 percent and staff members reported feeling better and more creative than ever.
The Guardian reports that the trial, one of the largest experiments of the sort, began last November, monitored by experts from the University of Auckland and the Auckland University of Technology. These scientists found an increase in commitment, leadership, stimulation and empowerment across the entire company.
Andrew Barnes, Perpetual Guardian’s founder and CEO, also released a how-to-guide for other organizations and companies to follow, encouraging them to give the four day workweek a shot. “We need to get more companies to give it a go. They will be surprised at the improvement in their company, their staff and in their wider community,” he said.
According to employees and the experts who supervised the study, the day off helped some catch up with relatives and have more focus while at work. “I was actually finishing projects before moving on to the next one, and by the end of the day found I was accomplishing more than trying to multitask everything,” says Tammy Barker, an employee whose work week was cut from 37.5 hours to 30.
It’s been proven by numerous studies that overworking leads to health issues and doesn’t improve productivity or efficiency of employees. The more you tax yourself, the more mistakes you make, especially if you clock in over 40 hours a week.
Countries like Sweeden and New Zealand are making an effort in order to improve the health of their communities and the productivity in work spaces. Four-day work weeks might not be the ultimate solution but they are certainly a model worth considering.