So, Christmas has come early at Perpetual Guardian. They are moving to a four-day week for six weeks, to see what it does to productivity.

It is based on the broad premise, which I think is right, that if you're engaged with your job and employer, you are more productive.

This, ironically, comes at the same time as an historic union-based agreement in part of Germany, which will see people work a 25-hour week, if they want to look after elderly or poorly relatives. Not just that, but they got a large pay rise as well.

Now, it's going to be fascinating to watch what happens. And my bet is that human nature wins. And by that I mean everyone is different, and because of that, a broad brush one-stop shop of an idea isn't an answer or a panacea.


I cite a study done in America involving health-based programmes for workers. The company lined up classes in tai chi, access to health care, general wellbeing programmes. Half the group they actually paid to use them, half they didn't. Upshot? Neither group changed one jot. Didn't go to tai chi, didn't improve their health, didn't access anything.

Theoretically, you'd ask how is that possible? You get free fitness and health and even when they shoved money in your hand to do it you still couldn't be bothered? And yet, well, human nature.

So the industrious go-getter at Guardian is going to love the four days. They're going to work hard, get their job done, and enjoy their three days off. But they were enjoying the job anyway.

The person who lives for Friday, that downbeat buzz-kill we all know and loath, the one who goes "oh thank God it's the end of the week", the one who bunks off Monday, they'll love their three-day week as well.

But the thrill will wear off, and suddenly three days is normal, and the misery will return. Some jobs, of course, you can't do in four days. Some people have a lot of work on, and spreading the eight hours on the fifth day, is another two hours a day. It might be a push.

Can I cite France also, the home of the slack working week. They're looking at changing it. Why? Because they're hopelessly unproductive.

Can I cite Japan and China two of the most productive countries on Earth. Why? Because they thrash themselves, they send their kids to school six if not seven days a week. They have no holidays. But man, do they produce stuff in massive numbers.

So, maybe somewhere in the middle is the answer, and maybe that somewhere in the middle is the five-day, 40-hour week. But back to Perpetual Guardian. I like their "change it up" style. On paper, this is utopia. But is it the future? Can you actually do more or the same in less time? Can you really do better if there's more downtime?

My gut says no and my gut says six weeks isn't a proper test time. Also, this comes at the wrong time. I've just had a four-day week and I loved it. But here's the sad nerdy thing about me: given I love what I do and I am blessed, I love five-day weeks too. Hand on heart, if they offered me four days, I'd turn it down.