Year long 'experiment': Unilever New Zealand to trial four-day work week

Marco Green
December 1, 2020

The managing director of Unilever New Zealand, Nick bangs, recognized that the adjustment of normal work practices as a result of the impact of the pandemic of COVID-19 it has served as the impetus for the introduction of the four-day work week.

The move is an "experiment" to see if shortening the work week by one day can "bring material change in the way [employees] work", Unilever New Zealand managing director Nick Bangs said in a statement.

In May, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said companies should consider implementing four-day work weeks in order to boost employee productivity, provide workers with a better work-life balance, and encourage domestic tourism to make up for a pandemic-induced lack of foreign tourists.

Unilever has become the latest major company to hop on the four-day work week bandwagon, lending credence to the idea that flexible working is here to stay.

Unilever has no manufacturing unit in New Zealand and all the staff are in sales, distribution, and marketing. "But we have learned a lot during (the time of the pandemic) from COVID-19 and the flexibility of people who work from home, the productivity that has resulted", He comments Will burn.

The growing momentum for a four-day working is "validation of the catalytic role COVID-19 has played in shaking up standard working practices", he said. The trial gained global attention, and the company's founder said there was "no downside" to the shortened week.

"When the prime minister talked about it in the context of what the future of work would look like, that was encouragement for us", said Bangs. Later that year, Perpetual Guardian made the four-day work week permanent.

But interest in a shorter working week pre-dates the virus.

"Maintaining competitive edge, increasing productivity and improving well-being sit at the heart of the four-day work week", Bangs said.

According to a global survey of almost 3,000 employees by The Workforce Institute at HR software provider Kronos, 78% of full-time workers said it would take less than seven hours each day to do their job if they could work uninterrupted, with 45% saying their job should take less than five hours per day.

Barnes said the four-day week could help improve mental health and the environment by reducing the need to commute. With the trial conducted past year, Microsoft said productivity rose by 40 per cent rise and electricity costs fell by 23 per cent. The firm said it was so successful, it later chose to make it permanent.

Lipton ice tea - one of hundreds of Unilever's global consumer brands. Unilever will collaborate with the Business School of the University of Technology (UTS) of Sidney in evaluating the qualitative results of the experiment.

The trial starts December 7 and will last a year.

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