Unilever New Zealand is testing a four-day work week

On Tuesday, the distributor of Lipton’s tea, Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream announced that it would reduce working hours for all its employees in New Zealand, allowing them to decide which four days of work each week Would like it.

The trial starts this month, and lasts for a year. The consumer giant has 81 staff members in the country who will be allowed to work on a program compressed with full pay as the University of Technology Sydney in Australia helps track their progress.

Unilever said that if all goes well, the company will consider whether to shake its workflow on a larger scale.

“We hope the trial will adopt ways of working at Unilever, providing tangible benefits for employees and for the business,” said Nick Bangs, managing director of Unilever New Zealand, in a statement.

“This is an exciting moment for our team and a validation of the catalytic role Kovid-19 has played blending standard work practices.”

Unilever is not the first firm to adopt the practice in New Zealand. In 2018, local company Perpetual Guardian, which helps customers manage their wills and estates, also conducted a widely cited two-month trial of the concept. The firm said it was so successful, it later decided to make it permanent.

Bangs said his team was inspired by the findings of that case study, and “began to believe that old ways of working are outdated.”

Even the New Zealand leader, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has raised the idea that the economy can help recover from the effects of the coronavirus epidemic.

In May, Ardern shared a suggestion discussing ways to revive domestic tourism in his country. She said businesses had their own discretion to make such decisions, meriting the idea that it could give domestic travelers “flexibility in terms of their travel and their vacation.”

Some other big companies are also joining this trend. Last year, Microsoft (Msft)In Japan, the team experimented by closing its offices every Friday in August, and gave all employees an extra day each week.
Microsoft tried a 4-day workweek in Japan.  Productivity jumped 40%

The results were promising: while time spent at work was dramatically cut, productivity – measured by sales per employee – increased by about 40% compared to the same period last year.

As a result, Microsoft announced that it would be in Japan with another experiment, and asked other companies to join the initiative as well.

The four-day work week has been seen as a way to improve work-life balance. Some businesses recently began trying to help fight burnout due to the challenges of working during the epidemic.
Other companies are doing remote work for similar reasons. On Tuesday, Japanese firm Nomura Holdings said it was considering introducing a new system, which would allow workers to spend 60% of their time away from office each month.


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