Roughly half of 240 employees of a New Zealand company felt they had a solid work-life balance as of November. By April, the figure had risen to 78%. The reason: Over March and April, they were paid for five eight-hour work days per week, but only required to show up for four. Now, the founder of Perpetual Guardian, which manages trusts, wills, and estates, is hailing his idea to switch to a 32-hour workweek as part of a study by outside researchers, and has even recommended the company's board make the switch permanent, reports CNN. "You get a motivated, energized, stimulated, loyal work force," with staffers "fiercely proud of the company they work for because it gives a damn," says Andrew Barnes. In addition to a better work-life balance, researchers saw employee stress levels fall 7%, while overall life satisfaction rose 5%, per the Guardian.
One of the researchers from Auckland University of Technology credits employees for coming up with what could be "a revolutionary way to work," which also brought increases in stimulation, commitment, and a sense of empowerment. Given more control over their time at the office, employees "worked out where they were wasting time and worked smarter, not harder," he tells the New York Times. "Supervisors said staff were more creative, their attendance was better, they were on time, and they didn’t leave early or take long breaks." Staff "went beyond my wildest dreams," adds Barnes, who also saw electricity costs decrease with fewer employees at work at one time. Even the nation's workplace relations minister has taken notice. "I applaud this instance of working smarter and encourage more businesses to take it up," he says. (Hear that, South Korea?)