[News] Four-day working week a winner, says Melbourne business

There are now fewer emails, fewer and shorter meetings, and staff are encouraged to take non-urgent medical appointments on their days off. Non-essential services – such as a jobs website, which wasn’t a market leader – were axed.

Our Community group managing director Denis Moriarty (right) and partner Brendan Shanahan (left) with their son John Nguyen at home. Credit:Eddie Jim

“There’s not an exact science of measuring productivity, but my sense is we’re getting more in four days than what we got in five days,” Moriarty said.

Sick leave has dropped 36.5 per cent in the past five and a half months.

“People are more energised, they’re more rested. There are no clients that are unhappy. We’re answering phones, we’re getting back to people within the critical times that we had to. It’s been absolutely – not surprising – amazing.”

Orgil Tumurbaatar, a data analyst at Our Community, initially wondered how he could fit his workload into four days, especially as he works with outside clients.

“I try to spend my time as efficiently as possible, like making a schedule for daily tasks and reducing the time spent on unimportant things,” Tumurbaatar said.

I would never go back to five days if I could help it.

Stef Ball

Although he occasionally has to work a couple of hours on his day off, Tumurbaatar said he was now able to spend Fridays with his youngest daughter and then pick his two older children up from school.

This frees up his wife to do more work as a Mongolian language producer for SBS, swim and meet her friends.

Stef Ball, who manages Our Community’s funding centre database, said she worked with developers to automate some tasks. Staff also did a chronotype workshop to determine what time of day they were most productive.

Stef Ball is able to spend more time practising yoga after her company moved to a four-day week.

Stef Ball is able to spend more time practising yoga after her company moved to a four-day week.Credit:Wayne Taylor

“The appeal of having the Friday off is motivation enough to be like, ‘get off your phone, stop being distracted, get these tasks done’,” Ball said.

She uses her Fridays to practise yoga, catch up with friends, call her family and complete life administration tasks.

“I would never go back to five days if I could help it,” she said.

The push to shorten the working week is gaining steam.

Last month, as part of the state election campaign, the Victorian Greens proposed a $60 million fund to support public service workers and private businesses to transition to a four-day working week.

Victorian MP Fiona Patten has also called for a trial in the public service.

And Victorian Labor would examine the merits of a four-day working week, according to a manifesto obtained by The Age in September, which forms a set of guiding principles for the party but does not always materialise in government policy.

Professor John Quiggin, an economics professor at the University of Queensland, is one of the academics who will examine the experience of workers in the 30 companies involved in the Australasian trial of the four-day week.

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Quiggin said, while he doesn’t think all organisations would be able to maintain or exceed productivity when working a four-day week, many workers would prefer more leisure time and flexibility than wage increases.

“I see the four-day week as something whose time has come,” he said. “It is long overdue to have a reduction in standard working hours and the four-day week is a simple and dramatic way of organising that,” he said.

“The pandemic had that direct effect of people rethinking their own lives and saying ‘things don’t have to be the way they are’.”

The pilot, which will conclude in January, coincides with similar trials in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Spain and the UK.

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Berita Terbaru

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