Arguments for a four-day workweek have been circulating for years. As I pointed out in this column recently, the coronavirus just added another reason to shorten hours to the list. In addition to happier, more productive employees, shorter workweeks could help employers maintain social distancing with creative schedules in a post-pandemic world.
Now it appears the case for a shorter workweek isn't being made just by academics and journalists. The idea has gained a real-world backer. On Facebook Live recently, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been praised for her handling of the coronavirus crisis, came out in favor of shortened hours for Kiwis.
Happier employees, healthier economy
As Business Insider reports, Arden made a different case for giving workers more free time. It will also stimulate the economy, particularly the country's hard-hit tourism sector.
"I hear lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day workweek. Ultimately, that really sits between employers and employees," she said. "I'd really encourage people to think about that if you're an employer and in a position to do so. To think about if that's something that would work for your workplace, because it certainly would help tourism all around the country." Watch the complete video below:
Arden isn't the only Kiwi advocating for a four-day workweek. In 2018, Andrew Barnes, founder of 200-plus-person New Zealand financial firm Perpetual Guardian, decided to cut his team's hours from 40 to 32 without cutting their pay. Output stayed the same while creativity and attendance shot up.
"New Zealand could definitely go to a four-day week in the aftermath of Covid, and in fact, it would be a strategy to rebuild the economy and particularly the hard-hit tourism market as it pivots to a domestic focus," Barnes said recently, adding:
"We need to retain all the productivity benefits working from home has brought (including cleaner air and a lack of gridlock, lost productivity from commuting), while helping businesses stay afloat. We have to be bold with our model. This is an opportunity for a massive reset."
Should more businesses in the U.S. consider following Arden's suggestion and shorten their workweeks?