Australian trial of four-day work week shows productivity up 38 per cent

New research has found that staff on a four-day work week are more productive, with companies which took part in the experiment seeing their revenue dramatically increase.

The first large-scale study of its kind, released earlier this week, is the latest in the push to reduce the mandatory five-day working week.

Australia was one of the countries involved in the study, which also included New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland.

Over 10 months, nearly 1000 employees at 33 different companies took part in the trial.

Their hours were cut down by an average of six hours and they worked one less day a week, while still receiving their regular full-time salary.

The report found that revenue rose 8 per cent during the trial, but it was up a whopping 38 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

Employee absenteeism also dropped and 67 per cent of employees said they were less burnt out.

Staff also reported less fatigue, with levels going down from 66 per cent before the trial to 57 per cent after the trial. Insomnia and sleep problems for employees also went down by 8 per cent.

It was such a success, that two-thirds of the firms decided to retain the four-day work week, including the Australian offices of Unilever.

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Companies rated the overall experience a nine out of 10, with resignations dropping slightly and the ability to attract new workers also increasing.

The research was co-ordinated by not-for-profit advocacy group 4 Day Week Global in partnership with researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University.

“This is important because the two-day weekend is not working for people,” lead researcher Juliet Schor told Bloomberg.

“In many countries, we have a work week that was enshrined in 1938, and it doesn’t mesh with contemporary life. For the wellbeing of people who have jobs, it’s critical that we address the structure of the work week.”

Other than the US, Australia was the largest participant in the study.

From finance to health, companies from a range of industries across the country signed up to trial a shorter work week from August.

Unilever said this month it would trial the four-day work week in its Australian operations after it found success in its New Zealand firm, with employees choosing which day or set of hours was most suitable for them to take off.

Last week, Mars Wrigley also revealed some staff only worked three or four days a week.

In Silicon Valley, ride-sharing app Bolt also jumped on-board a four-day work week, as did crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, while in Japan, electronics manufacturer Panasonic introduced an optional four-day schedule in January.

It comes as new research released last week found that one in three Aussies would leave their current job for a company that offered a four-day working week in search of a better work-life balance.

Young Aussies, who are driving the quiet quitting trend, are particularly keen to reduce their time at work, with 40 per cent of Australians aged 18-24 ready to move to a company that offered a four-day work week, compared to 26 per cent of those aged 45-64 years, according to research by work consultancy firm Future X Collective.

Read related topics:Employment

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