When a long weekend rolls around, spirits in the office lift immediately. That grouchy colleague who only ever mutters a greeting when pressed for conversation at the communal coffee machine suddenly perks up and begins to enquire about your weekend plans. Banter flows with ease, work trips are planned, lunches are taken as a group and that office putting matt is rolled out so you can get your practice in early. If ever there was any proof that the three-day weekend is beneficial for more than just our social lives, you need only look at the office morale that surrounds it.
We all know long weekends are few and far between, but thankfully we might be getting a dose of them on a regular basis thanks to a new trial that’s set to land in Australia. Already proving a success in Iceland and currently in development in Spain, we are of course talking about the four-day work week which will see 20 companies based across Australia and New Zealand trial it for staff.
The experiment is part of an international pilot currently being conducted by not-for-profit advocacy group, 4 Day Week Global (4DWG). As well as the ANZ organisations that have signed up to trial the new working arrangements – with companies such as marketing agency The Walk, Momentum Mental Health and More Than Mortgages – there’s also been more than 70 organisations based in the UK take it up, and 38 organisations in North America sign up, too.
It’s hard not to hear four-day work week and instantly feel a desire to hand in your resignation and adopt a new career based solely around the company that offers such an attractive working arrangement. If this is you, know that there’s already a number of businesses her in Australia that do exactly that. Innovation consultancy Invention, financing alternative Tractor Ventures, debt collection agency Indebted, affiliate marketing agency Commission Factory, digital transformation agency Versa, social app Good Empire and more all offer the four-day work week.
As Deanna Ezzy of Canberra’s More Than Mortgages explained in an interview with The Australian Financial Review, the four-day work week is becoming an increasingly attractive option in today’s age where burnout is on the rise and we find it more difficult to switch off from work. “[My business partner Natasha Condi] said, ‘What have we got to lose?’ And we started researching it and decided to jump on board,” said Ezzy.
More Than Mortgages is set to incorporate a nine-day fortnight throughout the July quarter, before transitioning to the proper four-day work week for the December quarter thereafter. While the business will remain open five days a week, half of all its employees are scheduled to kick their feet up on Mondays, with the other half enjoying clocking off on Thursdays. And if all that wasn’t enough, employees will still enjoy the 100: 80: 100 model, which sees 100 per cent productivity, 80 per cent hours, and 100 per cent pay.
“Our mindset is: work really hard and do whatever you’ve got to do to get it done,” says Ezzy. “So it’s a real shift for us to go from really hustling and slogging it out to, ‘How will we get this all done in four days?’”
According to Perpetual Guardian CEO Andrew Barnes, the four-day work week is a better way of attaining balance in work life. “It’s a better work-life balance, it addresses issues around the fact that one in four or five workers at any point in time have a stress or mental health issue,” he states.
He adds: “It addresses issues around gender pay, it takes cars off the road, it has environmental benefits, and all of those things flow as a consequence. But we are not talking from the perspective of this being great for work-life balance solely…we’re saying it’s a sensible rational business decision.”