Unilever New Zealand to trial four-day work week

Unilever says it will try out a four-day week in New Zealand with no pay cut. — AFP pic
Unilever says it will try out a four-day week in New Zealand with no pay cut. — AFP pic

WELLINGTON, Dec 1 — Unilever New Zealand said today it would trial a four-day work week for staff in the country, with no cut to their pay, after the government this year flagged the idea as part of a drive to kickstart the economy.

The multinational consumer titan said all 81 employees would be eligible to participate in the year-long experiment slated to begin this month and would consider adopting it globally.

“Our goal is to measure performance on output, not time. We believe the old ways of working are outdated and no longer fit for purpose,” Unilever New Zealand managing director Nick Bangs said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in May raised the prospect of moving the country to a four-day week to help kickstart New Zealand's post-lockdown economy.

Ardern said she wanted to encourage “nimble” and creative ideas for recovery after a strict seven-week lockdown that helped New Zealand contain the coronavirus but stalled the economy.

Bangs said momentum for a shorter work week was growing after the pandemic's upheaval of office culture.

“This is an exciting moment for our team and a validation of the catalytic role Covid-19 has played in shaking up standard working practices,” he said.

The company said it hopes to increase staff productivity and wellbeing by providing more flexibility and would shift to new project-management software to ease the transition.

Results from the trial will be measured by the University of Technology Sydney, with the potential for the scheme to be rolled out across Unilever operations around the world if it proves successful.

“We look forward to sharing the lessons from this trial with other Kiwi businesses, in the hopes of influencing others to reflect on their own ways of working,” Bangs added.

The New Zealand trial is scheduled to run until December next year. — AFP