New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has encouraged businesses to implement four-day working weeks, as the country looks to return to relative normality amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
New Zealand’s borders will remain closed to foreign nationals for the foreseeable future, but the country is eager to stimulate the economy via internal tourism and other measures.
“I hear lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day workweek. Ultimately that really sits between employers and employees. But as I’ve said there’s just so much we’ve learnt about Covid-19 and that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that,” she said during a live address on Facebook.
“I’d really encourage people to think about that if you’re an employer and in a position to do so. To think about if that’s something that would work for your workplace because it certainly would help tourism all around the country.
“The question for me is, how do we encourage Kiwis to make sure that they go out and they have that experience? And when they go and visit somewhere, they don’t just stay with family and friends, but they get out and about and visit some of the amazing places and tourism offerings that we have.
“The productivity that can be driven out of that really encouraged people to think about, if they’re an employer and in a position to do so, to think about whether or not that is something that would work for their workplace. Because a four-day workweek certainly would help tourism all around the country.”
Four-day workweek pioneeers
Perpetual Guardian is a New Zealand business that employees over 200 people – and changed from a five- to four-day working week two years ago. Founder Andrew Barnes hailed the change, insisting it was positive for his employees’ mental and physical health.
“New Zealand could definitely go to a four-day week in the aftermath of Covid, and in fact it would be a strategy to rebuild the economy and particularly the hard-hit tourism market as it pivots to a domestic focus,” Barnes was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
“We need to retain all the productivity benefits working from home has brought, including cleaner air and a lack of gridlock lost productivity from commuting while helping businesses stay afloat. We have to be bold with our model. This is an opportunity for a massive reset.”