A Warrnambool consultancy company is trialling a four-day work week with the move already increasing productivity and boosting staff wellbeing.
Warrnambool's Myers Planning & Associates introduced a 32-hour work week on July 1, 2023 with staff able to choose between or working four full days or five shorter days.
The town planning consultancy and building design firm staff continue to be paid their usual wage, despite a drop in work hours.
Managing director Steve Myers said said research showed staff working four days were happier, less stressed and burnt out and "generally more balanced in life", while in the workplace it could reduce sick leave and increase employee retention.
"The other thing I was really intrigued about, and we've seen, is that productivity can be maintained or increased," Mr Myers said. "We've seen that. We've seen productivity increase with less time."
Mr Myers said the move had also helped to attract new employees.
"We've just advertised three roles and it's the best interest we've had," Mr Myers said. "In a shortage of talent or being able to recruit people, it's attractive and it's attracted talent."
He said staff feedback was really good and while the trial would run until the end of the year, the company was considering making it permanent.
Mr Myers said while he appreciated it would be harder for customer or service-focused businesses to adopt, "industries are going to have to adapt to it because I think everyone's going to ask for it".
He said the company was looking at how to introduce a similar model to its onsite cafe, which was more challenging given it's customer-focused setting.
"I think the whole industry will have to shift because it will, in time, become the norm," he said. "Particularly companies that are wanting to attract and retain talent, it's just going to become what you have to do."
Senior planning consultant Amanda Power has Fridays off and said she felt more rested.
"It's the same as a long weekend," Ms Power said. "It just gives me extra time away from work to reset."
When she's back at work, it's all about about efficiency.
"You can bring the intensity through the four days," she said. "For me it's being really clear about what you need to get done and having really focused efforts at work to get through that same volume of work in less time."
Ms Power said it was a shift from the traditional 9-5 and hoped others would follow suit.
"We hope other businesses can look at how we work and think 'what elements of that can we bring into the way we work? How can we set the environment for people to engage with work in the best way that works for them?"
She said the team appreciated the flexible and adaptive culture and said it was generous for an employer "to have that level of trust and something like that put to you as an employee".
It follows a trial at Warrnambool's Maddens Lawyers where staff clock off at 3.30pm on Fridays to improve wellbeing and have a better work-life balance.
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