Andrew Barnes: Why the 4 Day Week is the Future of Work

In: BlogDate: Oct 24, 2022By: Claire Lickman

Andrew Barnes is the head of New Zealand's biggest corporate trust company, Perpetual Guardian, but he's probably better known as the father of the four-day week movement. Andrew trialled the four-day week at Perpetual Guardian in 2018, despite a lot of fear and opposition from his board and management team. It was a resounding success and has grown into a movement with unprecedented momentum.

In this video from the 2022 Happy Workplaces Conference, Andrew explores some of the data supporting the four-day working week and challenges you to think about how it would work in your organisation.

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Andrew Barnes on the 4 Day Week from the 2022 Happy Workplaces Conference

When Andrew Barnes wanted to trial a four-day working week back in 2018, he had no idea that he was starting a journey that wouldn't just impact Perpetual Guardian, but would start a movement that would take him, and the four-day week, all over the world. 

The Perpetual Guardian trial was born when an academic from Auckland University of Technology heard about what the company were planning to do, and approached them to ask if he could run some research alongside the company's trial. Andrew had hoped that by gifting his employees one day a week that they would find ways to keep productivity levels the same.

He was astounded at what actually happened: "We found that our team engagement scores went up 40%. Stress levels dropped 15%. What was critical was more people said they were better able to do their job working 4 days rather than 5.

"The other key findings: we found that there's an improvement in teamwork, readiness for change, and team creativity and performance. And, our productivity went up to 125% of our original productivity."

These results astounded Andrew, who admitted that he had "no idea" how, or indeed if, the trial would work.

It also caught the attention of businesses worldwide who saw the outcomes at Perpetual Guardian and wanted to replicate it in their workforce. Now global companies such as Volkswagen, Unilever and Panasonic, as well as smaller companies like us at Happy, have switched to, or are trialling, a four-day week. Could your organisation do it too?

What you will learn in this video:

  • All about the Perpetual Guardian trial, the result and the 100-80-100 concept
  • The human side of a four-day week: what that extra day really means to employees
  • The health benefits of a four-day week from research by Henley Business School
  • The changes in legislation in support of a four-day week even, surprisingly, in the United States
  • How flexible a four-day week can be and how it even works for part time employees
  • How a four-day week can even work in hospitality and medical settings

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About Andrew Barnes

Andrew’s company Perpetual Guardian sparked global media fascination with its flexible work model after it successfully implemented the four-day week, resulting in a 20% lift in employee productivity, a 27% reduction in work stress levels, and a 45% increase in employee work-life balance. The four-day week concept has proven to be extraordinarily popular around the world and a pilot is starting in the UK with 55 companies.

Find out more about Andrew and the four-day week at Perpetual Guardian in Henry's blog, Is It Time for a Four-Day Week?

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Our 2024 event was our first ever hybrid event, and so we hope to run next year's in the same way. We will host up to 50 people face-to-face at Happy's HQ in Aldgate, London, and we can host up to 200 people online via Zoom. However you choose to join, there will be interaction, discussion, space for reflection and opportunities to network with others.

Stay tuned for full details of our speakers for next year's event. As always, our speakers share practical, hands-on ideas that you can implement to create happy and engaged workplaces.

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