New Zealand PM Ardern floats the “4-day week” to help the economy after the coronavirus

A deserted shopping mall in the city centre of Stockholm is pictured on March 17, 2020, as many activities came to a halt or slowed down due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Fredrik SANDBERG / TT News Agency / AFP) / Sweden OUT (Photo by FREDRIK SANDBERG/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)
In a Facebook Live video published earlier this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shared the suggestion while discussing ways to revive domestic tourism in her country. In recent months, the coronavirus crisis has forced people around the world to block and decimate global travel demand.

“I have had many people who have suggested that we should have a four-day week. Ultimately, this really falls between employers and employees,” said Ardern.

However, the idea has the merit of being able to offer domestic travelers “flexibility in terms of travel and holidays”, he added. Ardern noted that 60% of New Zealand’s tourism industry is from locals.

“There are many things we learned about Covid and only about the flexibility of people who work from home, about the productivity that can be driven away,” he continued.

The prime minister encouraged employers to consider allowing for more flexible work arrangements – including remote working and dedicating longer hours in fewer days – if possible, “because it would certainly help tourism across the country “.

Four-day work weeks have become more popular recently as employers explore whether a tighter schedule can increase productivity.

The New Zealand government is no stranger to the idea of ​​an alternative work program. Since 2018, several government agencies have signed up piloting a program called “flexible default work”, which directs employers to give their workers more freedom in various ways.
While it is up to each participating agency to decide what this agreement looks like, the government has outlined several possibilities: including allowing people to take shorter work weeks, “say 40 hours in four days or two weeks in nine days.”
In 2018, the New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian, which helps customers manage their wishes and properties, also conducted a two-month trial period of the concept. The firm said it was so successful I wanted to make it permanent.

By working only four days a week, all employees reported higher productivity, a better work-life balance and reduced stress, according to the company, which had approximately 240 employees.

“It was just a theory, something I thought I wanted to try because I wanted to create a better environment for my team,” founder Andrew Barnes he told CNN Business at the time. “They went beyond my wildest dreams.”
Large companies elsewhere are also starting to jump on the bandwagon. Last year, Microsoft (MSFT) he accepted the idea as the company’s team in Japan experimented by closing its offices every Friday in August and offering all employees one extra day of rest every week.

The results have been promising: while the amount of time spent on the job has been drastically reduced, productivity, measured by sales per employee, has increased by almost 40% compared to the same period of the previous year, the company said.

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As a result, Microsoft announced that it would follow another experiment in Japan and also asked other companies to join the initiative.


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