Appendix A: 15 Useful Pointers – The blueprint for starting your Four-Day Week trial
Here’s our step-by-step guide for how to do this yourself:
Do your own desktop and local research.
Speak to your staff and be clear about your objectives and what you are trying to achieve.
Involve employees in all aspect of the design and implementation of the trial.
Give employees plenty of time and space to think about how they can work differently.
Ensure policy is well supported and resourced.
Be bold and don’t let technical issues stop you seeing the policy through.
Create a policy that can flex depending on workloads, projects or customer requirements.
Encourage staff to come up with their own individualised productivity measures.
Encourage staff to consider how they can re-structure ‘time off’ within teams.
Empower staff to come to their own decisions and trust them to make the right call.
Engage outside consultants/academics to measure and evaluate the trial.
Let your customers know what’s going on and assure them there will be no drop-in service.
Ensure new employment structure doesn’t cut across legal requirements.
Be clear that the aim of the initiative is to benefit the company as well as employees.
Recognise that flexible working initiatives aren’t magic bullets.
Appendix B: Productivity Week Policy – Opt-In Request Form
Appendix C: So you’ve got extra time, now what?
by Dr Tina Huesing, Professional Teaching Fellow, and Professor Elizabeth George, Director of MBA and PGDipBus at the University of Auckland Business School
When companies experiment with work arrangements, they do so for a variety of reasons. The goals might be to attract more talent, to improve employee engagement (morale) or retention, to increase productivity, to reduce fixed cost associated with underutilized office space, to reduce the environmental footprint of the company, or to allow for better work-life balance. These experiments are always a variation on the standard work week. After establishing the main components of experiments with work arrangements, we extend the current discussion by looking at possible (unintended) side effects on a company’s ability to innovate.
What are the origins of our 5-day, 40-hour work week?
When the carpenter Samuel Parnell arrived in New Zealand in 1840, he offered his services for 8 hours a day.1 Parnell argued for a work-life balance with 8 hours spent working, 8 hours for recreation and 8 hours sleeping. Other workers joined him, and the 8-hour day gained traction. In 1936 the NZ Government reduced ordinary working hours per week from 48 to 40 hours and established the 5-day work week.2
Flexible work arrangements
Any deviation from the standard work week is considered a flexible work arrangement (FWA), of which there are many kinds. The two main categories are flexibility on where the work is performed (e.g. at work or at home), and when the work is performed (e.g. during which hours and on which days). The potential for FWAs to alleviate conflict between work and family may be limited.3 Another deviation from the standard work week is part-time work, i.e. regularly working less than 40 hours per week. Employees might want to work fewer hours to have time for other activities, be it time with the family or time spent studying. Employers might want a more flexible workforce to increase the hours their company is available to its customers, or to increase the number of employees at work when demand peaks. Increasing labour productivity can benefit both employees and employers.
Low labour productivity has been a source of concern in New Zealand for some time. A recent study conducted in the US, UK, Germany and France found that employees increasingly see their home as the most productive workplace.4 At their normal place of work, there are too many disruptions.
In New Zealand, many employees work long hours to get their work done. In the early 2000s a significant proportion of the employed population worked 50 hours or more per week.5 Efforts in improving workplace productivity can reduce overtime and long work hours. Redesigning the work can be so effective that fewer employees are needed to get the work done. This can lead to layoffs.
A more productive work force and its impact on creativity and innovation
Companies not only need a highly productive workforce but also creative employees (individuals and teams) who innovate and drive future sales for the organisation. Models of creativity and innovation show that employees need to be intrinsically motivated to be creative, and that the work environment needs to foster this creativity in a number of different ways (leadership, structures, policies).6 Communal and collaborative work environments foster creativity and innovation through the casual interactions, and these interactions suffer as time spent at the workplace decreases. Most importantly, employees need sufficient time to explore creative solutions and implement those solutions effectively.7 When work arrangements squeeze out time at work then the opportunities to innovate decrease.
Some big corporations are now implementing policies that require their employees to spend more time in the office again.8 Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo started the trend back in early 2013 when she abolished the work-at-home policy. She explained her decision with the need for more face-to-face interaction among employees to foster a more collaborative culture.9 Similarly, Google has long encouraged its workforce to devote 20 percent of their time – a day a week – on side projects. And even though there is some debate as to whether or not employees really take that much time for side projects, Google HR boss Laszlo Bock is sure that what’s really important is that the idea of the “20 percent time” exists. Improve productivity, improve work-life balance, experiment with work models, but don’t do it at the expense of creativity and innovation.10
This white paper has been prepared by Coulthard Barnes and Perpetual Guardian with the help of contributors.
4 Allen, T. D., Johnson, R. C., Kiburz, K. M., & Shockley, K. M. (2013). Work–family conflict and flexible work arrangements: Deconstructing flexibility. Personnel psychology, 66(2), 345-376.
7 T.M. Amabile, M.G. Pratt, The dynamic componential model of creativity and innovation in organizations: Making progress, making meaning, Research in Organizational Behavior (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.riob.2016.10.001
8 Lawson, M. B. (2001). In praise of slack: Time is of the essence. The Academy of Management Executive, 125–135, Wang, H., Choi, J., Wan, G., & Dong, J. Q. (2013). Slack resources and the rent-generating potential of firm-specific knowledge. Journal of Management, 42, 500–523.