It’s a concept that was once merely considered a pipe dream.
But now a four-day working week is slowly becoming a realistic alternative for Australian employees.
A digital agency in Melbourne claims it has become the first company across the nation to implement the groundbreaking working arrangements.
Versa now gives its 55 employees an additional day off on a Wednesday while still getting staff to complete a 37.5-hour working week, just over 9 hours a day.
CEO Kathy Blackham told Channel Seven’s Today Tonight that the company is now reaping the benefits.
“Our profits went up, we are three times more profitable... we’re up 46 per cent in revenue and our staff retention is 20 per cent better than it was last year,” she said.
Ms Blackham said the extra day is perfect for those who are in need of completing “life admin” such as doctors appointments.
“I think it took a while for everyone to get used to it but it works really well now,” employee Tiffany Gilchrist, who uses her extra day to play tennis, revealed.
The company have maintained the same pay for all employees. Ms Blackham said she believed it was just a matter of time for other companies to follow suit and that in 10 years the company will look back and laugh at any reservations they had.
Concept slowly progressing
Versa are the latest company worldwide that are breaking the mould for standard working practices and instead opting for new processes that have proven to improve productivity.
Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand financial services company, switched its 240 staff from a five-day to a four-day week last November and maintained their pay.
A study of the trial released earlier this year found productivity increased in the four days they worked, meaning there was no fall in the total amount of work done.
“When we started everybody’s initial reaction was, ‘How am I ever going do my work in four days rather than five’,”Andrew Barnes, Perpetual Guardian’s founder, said in a statement.
“So the fact that the trial indicates that not only could they do their work in four days, but they could do it better in four days, is something I find extraordinarily surprising,”
Earlier this week, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the nation will eventually lean towards a four-day work week in a bid to help staff tackle burnout syndrome and chronic fatigue, The Moscow Times reported.
“It is very likely that the future will see a four-day working week as the basis of the social and labour contract," Medvedev said Tuesday at the International Labor Conference in Geneva.
Last month, the World Health Organisation identified burnout syndrome as an “occupational phenomenon” that leaves workers exhausted and mentally distant from the task at hand.
“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” its website says.
The New Zealand study found employees felt less stressed on a four-day working week, as well as more empowered and committed.
Employees reported a seven per cent drop in stress levels, compared to a staff survey in 2017.
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