Four-day work weeks to be trialled by more Kiwi businesses

More Kiwi businesses are exploring ways to shake up the five-day work week in the hopes of improving productivity. 

Waikato engineering consultancy firm BCD Group is trialling a four-day week with its staff, while Vodafone announced this week that it will give workers an early finish on Fridays for the summer months.      

The results of the trial have been overwhelmingly positive for BCD Group workers. 

"[They can] recharge their batteries, go away and have that day off, come back and really focus in on what they need to get through on any given day," BCD Group managing director Blair Currie told Newshub.

The move follows the success of trusts and investment advisory firm Perpetual Guardian, which was the first company to make four-day weeks permanent after staff productivity soared during an eight-week trial.

Now, Vodafone is making changes too.

"We've introduced summer hours, which allows all of our people to go home early on a Friday at 2pm through till the end of February, in order to do the things that are important to them," Vodafone's acting human resources director Katie Williams says. 

AUT human resource management Professor, Jarrod Haar, has been closely following four-day work trials. He says Vodafone's announcement could inspire other workplaces to explore the option.

Companies overseas are switching up traditional work hours too.

Last year, Microsoft trialled a four-day work week in its Japan offices and found productivity grew by almost 40 percent. 

In the US, fast-food chain Shake Shack has introduced a shorter working week at a third of its restaurants to help attract and retain staff. 

Haar hopes flexibility around how we work will eventually translate to all professions. 

"Maybe it will become the norm and then we'll seriously look at how it could be different in the media, in nursing, in medical [professions] and hospitality," he says.

For managers at Vodafone, they'll be waiting to see if a few extra hours of sunshine for staff on Fridays makes for more productive workers come Monday morning.