New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is backing a four-day workweek as a way to help the country adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ardern said Monday that more flexible work options could boost productivity and domestic tourism, especially with foreign tourists currently prohibited from entering the country. "I hear lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day workweek," Ardern said on Facebook Live from the vacation destination of Rotorua, per Business Insider. "Ultimately that really sits between employers and employees" but "I'd really encourage people to think about that if you’re an employer and in a position to do so … because it certainly would help tourism all around the country."
Ardern's comments created quite a bit of excitement though she was only speaking casually, per the Guardian. One in eight Kiwis work in the tourism sector, which generated $16.2 billion in revenue in the year ending March 2019—that's about 6% of the country's GDP, reports Business Insider. There would be benefits beyond tourism, according to Andrew Barnes of Perpetual Guardian, a 200-person New Zealand company that moved to a four-day work week in 2018. He tells Newshub that companies can expect to benefit in productivity, while the environment would benefit from "cleaner air" and less traffic on roads. "This is an opportunity for a massive reset," he says. (Read more New Zealand stories.)