ANZ’s four-day work week pilot success a “game changer” for how we work

| July 5, 2023

Successful trials of the four-day work week in Australia and New Zealand have signalled a need to transform the way we work to achieve sustainable benefits for the employee, the organisation and society.  

It is not surprising that the reduction of working hours/days, without a pay cut, improves employees’ wellbeing, which can further boost their performance, productivity, innovation and creativity.  

Mental health and wellbeing issues are prevalent among workers and a main trigger of these issues is long working hours. 

The introduction of a four-day work week delivers a strong message about the employer’s emphasis on work-life balance, openness to new and innovative solutions to support employees and a commitment to building a sustainable, resilient workforce.  

The evidence from pilots, such as at ANZ, shows that strategically moving to a four-day work week will be a game-changer for many sectors.  

It is likely that organisations which effectively implement this practice in a way that suits their specific contexts will gain and accumulate competitive advantage quickly and sustainably.  

A key factor in its success will be how to design and redesign jobs in line with the four-day work schedule.   

The benefits of a well-implemented four-day work week may also go beyond the employee and the organisation to have a broader societal impact.  

For example, less commuting helps reduce traffic jams and carbon pollution. It may also help workers enrich their family roles, and assist to address the society’s gender gaps, such as through enhancing flexibility for caregiving duties and increasing equal employee opportunities regardless of gender.  

So far, the evidence for a four-day week is mainly from developed countries. It’s great to see that pilot programs will soon occur in developing nations like South Africa and Brazil. I look forward to seeing the results of future pilot programs in more developing countries such as India and China where many employees are stressed to work on a 9-9-6 model (9am-9pm for 6 days per week).  

I predict that societal cultures, as well as individuals’ cultural norms and value orientations, will significantly influence the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing the four-day work week.