Get your feet wet with a four-day trial in Australia and New Zealand


As the idea of ​​a four-day work week continues to gain popularity, Australia and New Zealand have launched pilot programs to give workers one extra day off per week without reducing their wages.

With about 20 participating companies from various industries, from finance to fashion, the program is based on the 100-80-100 model. At least 100% of the output.

UNSW Business School professor Karin Sanders says the five-day workweek remains the norm in Australia, but the concept is gaining acceptance globally.

“Hospitals in Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Finland and Norway treat a four-day work week as a mental health issue, so there is a big incentive,” Sanders explains.

“Workers, for example, need more time to spend on caring responsibilities.”

In countries like the Netherlands, it is common for parents to work part-time, giving them more stress-free time with their children, hobbies and household chores.

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North American employees who participated in the trial reported less stress and burnout, improved physical and mental health, and better sleep. (Nate Johnston/Unsplash)

Research shows that adopting a four-day work week increases productivity and profits. For example, one trial conducted in Iceland found that productivity remained the same or improved in most workplaces, and eventually included his 2,500 workers in the Icelandic government.

Another study involving a Canadian law firm found that profits increased by more than 30% in three months after switching to a four-day work week with no pay cuts.

Interestingly, employees preferred Wednesdays to Fridays off, and midweek breaks were found to be most beneficial to their health.

not free size

Model success varies by job type and industry, as not all business models allow for a four-day work week.

For example, knowledge workers such as web designers, accountants, and researchers may find it much easier to change their working hours than people in construction, education, or hospitality.

“When you work in a hospital, you work four days a week with patients,” Sanders said.

“But if, for example, we only work four days in academia but have the same amount of research goals and expectations of teaching, we might feel more strained.”

A four-day work week may sound tempting, but it’s likely not the magical solution to the work-life balance workers dream of, says Infrascale Russell Reeder’s CEO.

“It’s unrealistic to think that everyone can achieve work-life balance or get all their chores done on their days off if they take an extra day off,” he said.

“Companies need to create a culture that allows employees to take care of the little things that happen every day.”

Ironically, employers may also demand more dedication during the four days, creating more stress.

“When you put in 35 hours of work in four days and try to maintain the same productivity and goals, some people have to work harder, and those four days can lead to increased numbers of burnouts and overwork. There is a lot of potential,” said Sanders.

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AI and automation technologies could soon replace the workforce around the world. (Geralt/Pixabay)

Companies may also be forced to accelerate technological development to accomplish the same amount of work in less time through artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, chatbots, and fellow robots.

As a result, more research needs to be done on the impact of AI in the workplace and the industries most susceptible to automation to address the changes that can occur when technology surpasses the capabilities of human employees. .

Company’s sole decision

Jason Clemons, executive vice president of the Fraser Institute, said policy interventions such as the four-day work week could make things worse for some companies.

“Government regulations can make things worse, because with the reality that many companies are in sectors where a four-day work week just doesn’t make sense, it’s almost inevitable that all companies will be treated the same. Because you’re going to treat it like that,” he said.

Philip Cross, an economist at the McDonald’s Laurier Institute, agrees, saying it should be left to the people running the business to decide what to do.

“If a four-day workweek is clearly beneficial to employers and employees, they would expect to adopt it on their own without government directive,” Cross said in an interview.

“If they are resisting, there is a reason for it and the government should not impose new regulations and costs on people who are already suffering.”

The pilot study of banking groups in Australia and New Zealand is run by 4 Day Week Global, a large non-profit association of business leaders, community strategists, work designers and advocacy thought leaders.

They have organized trials all over the world, including North America and the UK, over the past few years.

Jesse Chan

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Jessie Zhang is a Sydney-based reporter covering Australian news with a focus on health and the environment. Please contact her at [email protected]