White Paper

The Four-Day Week


1. The Perpetual Guardian Four-Day Week Trial

On 5 March 2018, Perpetual Guardian embarked on what it believes is a world-first among privately held companies anywhere in the world: it started an eight-week trial that involved all 240 staff around New Zealand and sought to test productivity, motivation and output by changing the work model to give every staff member a paid day off each week. All other employment conditions, including remuneration, remained unchanged – so staff worked 30 hours but were paid for 37.5, and were asked only to deliver the same amount of output as in a standard week.

Perpetual Guardian’s founder Andrew Barnes decided on the trial after reading several global reports on productivity, for which New Zealand is one of the lowest-ranked OECD countries. Andrew said the decision to test the new way of working was “the right thing to do. We want people to be the best they can be while they’re in the office, but also at home. It’s the natural solution.”

Head of People and Capability Christine Brotherton said of the productivity trial, "If employees are engaged with their job and employer, they are more productive. The trial was a valuable and timely way to test our theory that efficiencies will come with more staff focus and motivation.”


The company embarked on the trial with the expectation that it might not provide all the answers but could be a big step towards making business work better for people and the bottom line. In order to make the trial useful on a local and global economic and productivity scale, Perpetual Guardian engaged academic partners The University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology (AUT) to measure the outcomes of the company’s employee engagement and publish the results. Based on the outcomes, Perpetual Guardian initiated the Four-Day Week on a long-term, opt-in basis across its business from 1 November 2018.


* Percentages indicative of scale method used in Auckland University of Technology research. Findings consistent with qualitative research by University of Auckland Business School.



This document was prepared as a general reference guide and contains general information only. The material does not take into account any company or person’s particular circumstances; legal, financial or otherwise, and references the results of a limited study of a single business. 

Although reasonable care has been taken in producing this document, and the information cited therein, it is of a general nature only, and is not intended to provide advice of any kind. Specifically, none of the authors or contributors, their directors and employees or other related parties, accept any liability for the information in this document or the use or reliance by any company or person on information contained in this document.

Nobody should rely solely on the information contained in this document when making decisions. We strongly recommend that you obtain professional advice on your or your company’s individual requirements before making any decisions relating to the material covered in this document.

The information contained within the document may not be copied or reused without the written consent of Perpetual Guardian or Coulthard Barnes.