4-Day Working Weeks Could Be A Major Game-Changer For Mental Health If This Australian Trial Is Anything To Go By

For those in office jobs, working a five day week can be exhausting and just getting over hump day can feel like the ultimate challenge. But recently, a digital agency in Melbourne Australia trialled a working week where they skipped Wednesdays entirely, and the results were incredible. It looks as though a four day week is more productive for some workplaces. So, it might be time to ditch a day.

It's tricky having a one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to working hours and productivity. Some people work better in the mornings, others might flourish late at night. While working Monday through to Friday is the most common work week for those in office jobs, it might not be the most productive way for companies to function. For the last year, staff at digital agency, Verse have been working 37.5 hours a week, skipping Wednesdays, and making the other days slightly longer. According to chief executive Kathryn Blackburn, having two "mini-weeks" has "renewed focus and intensity during all four days the office is open."

She told ABC News Australia, "we are three times more profitable than we were last year, we have grown by 30 or 40 percent in the last year in terms of revenue, and we have got happier staff and who are much more productive."

Trinette Reed / Stocksy

Blackman continued: "So all of the factors that you would have thought would have gone down because we're working 20 percent less — in theory we're working one day less, although we are doing longer days on the other days — actually we've seen them increase dramatically."

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 14.4 million working days were lost due to stress, anxiety, and depression in the UK in 2017/2018, and 595,000 workers suffered from work related stress, depression and anxiety. So although increased profits are obviously great for business, the happiness and improvement to the wellbeing of the staff is the most significant part of this experiment.

The correlation between a shorter working week and happier employees has been replicated in New Zealand. As The Guardian reports, in 2018 Perpetual Guardian, a financial services company, noticed increased productivity after they cut their working week from five days to four while keeping the same pay. A study of the trial by academics from the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology showed the mental health of staff was positively affected. According to the results, "staff stress levels were down from 45% to 38%. Work-life balance scores increased from 54% to 78%."

Andrew Barnes, Perpetual Guardian CEO, said in a statement given to Fortune, “we want people to be the best they can be while they’re in the office, but also at home. It’s the natural solution.”

So it might be time to get rid of Wednesdays. This type of flexible working could be the ideal antidote to the stress that comes with a packed five-day working week. A four-day scenario could also be wonderful news for parents too. A happier workforce makes for a better company after all.