A reduced workweek could help boost domestic tourism, according to the Prime Minister.

By Stacey Leasca
May 21, 2020
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In late April, New Zealand began the long process of lifting its coronavirus lockdown. Residents are now able to travel to work, order takeout, and gather in small groups. And now, to help boost tourism, the nation’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has one more idea in mind: four-day workweeks.

While taking part in a Facebook Live video chat, Ardern shared her thoughts on a shortened workweek, suggesting that it may help boost domestic tourism. She also noted, it may help people find a better work-life balance.

"I've had lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day week. Ultimately, that really sits between employers and employees," Ardern said. “But as I’ve said there’s just so much we’ve learned about [covid-19] and that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that.”

Ardern importantly explained that 60 percent of New Zealand's tourism comes from domestic travel, so employers giving people an extra day to explore their own neighborhoods may be just the thing the nation’s economy needs to get moving again.

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“I’d really encourage people to think about that if you’re an employer and in a position to do so,” she said. “To think about if that’s something that would work for your workplace because it certainly would help tourism all around the country.”

Arden’s idea most certainly has merit, and science to back it up.

CNN reported, in 2018, the New Zealand-based company Perpetual Guardian, which helps people manage their wills and estates, held a two-month trial of the four day workweek. During the trial, the company found employees all reported higher productivity, as well as improvements in stress and work-life balance. The trial was so successful the company now plans to make it permanent.

"It was just a theory, something I thought I wanted to try because I wanted to create a better environment for my team," Andrew Barnes, founder of the company, told CNN. "They went beyond my wildest dreams."

Even large companies are getting on board with the condensed workweek idea. In 2019, a Microsoft subsidiary in Japan tested the "Work-Life Choice Challenge," a summer-long program allowing workers to test out a four-day plan for the month of August. During that time the company saw its staff productivity increase by almost 40 percent. The question now is, who in your office is going to volunteer as tribute and ask the boss for Fridays off this summer?