Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand firm managing trusts, wills and estates, is considering introducing a 32-hour week following a successful experiment. As part of the experiment, workers were allowed to work eight hours less (equivalent to a day's leave) for the same pay as their full-time contract.
The experiment ran from March to April and was followed by two researchers. Workers reported the shorter hours allowed them to manage their time better, increased productivity and improved their work-life balance. Similar trials have been run in Sweden showing positive results although critics fear it could harm the country’s competitiveness.
The firm’s founder Andrew Barnes believes working contracts should be based around productivity rather than time, an opinion the experiment's results appears to support. He adds that mothers have the most to benefit from such schemes and cites other benefits a 20% lower staff footfall would generate, such as drops in office energy use and travel congestion.
Does this trial signal that attitudes to working patterns could be changing? Might shorter working weeks become normalised? How will this affect economies on a local and national scale? How might less time at work affect people’s personal lives, such as hobbies, friendships and family relations?