Jeremy Weisz 17:28
One of the questions and I was researching this was, How did people restructure their day? I’m sure everyone did it differently, right? You asked them, one of them, it sounds like a quiet hour, maybe reducing meetings. What else did you find that work for people to restructure their day?
Andrew Barnes 17:46
Well, one of the key things too, is if you focusing on productivity, you’ve got to recognize that social activity could get impacted. So what we did is we redesigned the floors that we had, and we made a much bigger canteen, like a bar, coffee shop area. And we said right, no more eating lunch at your desks. Now that has two impacts. One is you don’t have to fight the fact that the guy next to you is eating a reheated curry at lunchtime just before you’re about to go on lunch break and you just get distracted by the aroma. The fact you’re hungry, the fact that they’re also probably at the same time on the phone to something far more interesting than the rather mundane task that you’re doing. But by making people go to the coffee area, the breakout area, what that did is improved sociability as well. So that worked very well. We moved a little meeting tables that we used to have between banks of desks, same thing that creates interruptions. We redesigned them with away from the desks with soft furnishings. So that deaden the noise. And then you see it in all sorts of schools these days. Certainly my kids schools have got it the locker to put my mobile phone in. So statistically, we look at our mobile phones once every five minutes. Yeah, yeah, we had a bunch of people who said, I just can’t trust myself. So can I have somewhere to lock the phone away? So we did. Now, none of this is complex. None of it’s rocket science. But you do all of this. When you add it together, it is really very quiet, very powerful.
Jeremy Weisz 19:39
I’d love to hear you know, the people are going back to their companies. They’re announcing it to their their teams. What are some of the objections people are getting from the staff themselves?
Andrew Barnes 19:55
Well, I mean, the key one is, people don’t think they can do it. Right. They genuine only don’t think they can work. You know, in four days what they do in five? So that’s the first big problem. I think the second is, will I be held accountable if it fails? You know, if this experiment goes through it that is worrying, there is a worry about, is there a question about whether, in fact, my you know, my compensation gonna go down, or am I gonna is, suddenly you’re going to announce that we’re doing four days a week, I have to do all my job in four days, and actually pay will reduce, they get worried about that, too. And all of that has got to be has got to be stopped, you’ve got to get on top of that. Because that’s a major, major fear as far as people concerned. And that’s why your email got deleted, originally. I mean, everybody fears that this is going to be something other than done what it is.
Jeremy Weisz 21:05
Do people handle in different ways? You know, obviously, when I visualize a four-day week, at first, whatever reason, I just think Friday’s off, but I imagine people structured in different ways. How have you seen people structured, maybe they take a day in the middle of week, maybe they shave three hours off each day? How do people account for that four-day weekend?
Andrew Barnes 21:27
Well, there are two things that come into play here. I think number one is what works for the company. So you will often find smaller organizations think that it’s better for everybody to take a single day off. Now, that’s not always Friday, by the way, it might be a Wednesday. But the idea that they’re doing with this is what they’re trying to do is literally say, you know if that works best for us, we think there’s team building issues on that. If we all take it off together, it’s great. If you’re an organization like Perpetual guardian, though, we have retail outlets, we can’t close. So then you’ve got to think about how you rotate the time through the week. And we very quickly decided that we would talk about reduced hours working as opposed to just a straight out on out for a week. And what we did with that is we said that look, some people, some people would take a day off, some people take a couple of half days, working parents, which switch often to five days a week, but reduced hours now that means I can take the kids to school in the morning, I can pick them up in the afternoon. The key thing is you’re giving people that time off, that’s important to them, as opposed to the time off, that isn’t important to them. And it’s it’s forgiving of time off that’s important to them that makes it work. Because people will do absolutely anything to keep that precious gift. If they really value it. If they don’t value it. They’re not going to do it.
Jeremy Weisz 23:11
So when you implemented it, did you kind of just let people decide.
Andrew Barnes 23:16
Now initially, we said look, we’ll give you it’s a day off. You have to when your teams decide who’s taking Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. But by the time we finished the trial, we did we’ve morphed it into this much more flexible working. And interestingly, there are some misguided souls who wants to work conventional hours, five days a week. That’s partly about how they view the social aspects of their work.
Jeremy Weisz 23:49
Yeah, remember when you were when you were announcing it? That was one of the questions people had someone said, can I still work five days?
Andrew Barnes 23:55
Yeah, there’s a there’s a great story that it came out of an international company, where they polled the staff in Bangladesh, about whether in fact, they might look at a four-day week. And their workforce was almost entirely young women and they voted against it. And they thought, well, this is very strange, because when asked elite sent people around the world silence for the week, and they said, Well, why don’t you not want to come into work? And they said my mother in law is at home.
Jeremy Weisz 24:25
Well, that was that was actually one of the people I think you told the story, Andrew, that someone was bringing up something about their spouse, and you said Is it because you’re spending more time at home?
Andrew Barnes 24:40
Yeah, that’s right. That’s a key point, Jeremy, is people have got different motivations for different things. And what we’ve got to do is you’ve got to you’ve got to see what P individual people want and it was one of the interesting results from our UK and US. Pilots was we had people starting to talk about how much you would have to pay me to go back to five days a week. And I think 15% people in the UK trial said, You cannot pay me enough. Now, that is the difference between the four-day week, giving you the time off, that’s important to you, and giving out and one other gym membership or some other such thing, right? You know, none of that actually works. ,
Jeremy Weisz 25:48
Yeah, you thought you were gonna save marriages? And not always the case? No.
Andrew Barnes 25:52
Well, yeah, that’s having more time with your spouse sometimes doesn’t work. Right. But that’s, that’s sort of not the blockage.
Jeremy Weisz 26:02
What were some of the challenges that you saw with the implementation that you maybe ironed out for the the pilots future pilots?
Andrew Barnes 26:14
Look, I mean, bringing the leadership team on the journey was the hardest thing. I mean, really, really a hard thing, I have to say, because nobody really understood what they were going to have to do differently. There was a fear, there was a big fear about, you know, if my team doesn’t deliver, I’m gonna get it in the neck. So you had to make it safe for the leadership team to actually come on the journey. And the other thing you had to do was not only make it safe, but you had to actually get them to walk the talk. Because the problem is that when we introduce flexible working policies, wherever they are, in whatever company, you will find that they always fail if there is a line manager doesn’t agree with it. So we agree with flexible working, but you’ve got a line manager who doesn’t instantaneously that policy does. So we have to say to the leadership team, look, we’re not going to we’re not going to make you responsible, if this doesn’t work. But you are accountable to make sure that your team gives it the best shot it can possibly do. And if they if you do that, if you structure it, so that you’ve done everything possible to give a really good trial of this, and it doesn’t work that’s on me. That’s not on you. Now. I’m lucky I, I owned the principal amount of the company, the end of the day, if this had gone wrong, was my back pocket, not anybody else’s. But you know, that’s quite a, that’s quite a journey for a leadership team to God.
Jeremy Weisz 28:03
Now, I can see that it’s tough, because if there’s a company, and there’s five departments, and for the departments love it, and one of the departments, I don’t know, maybe someone wasn’t on board, and it didn’t work because of that, then what do you do as a company? Right? I mean, if you release it across all of them?
Andrew Barnes 28:22
Well, you mean, the trick is it’s a trial, right? So the the key part of this, it’s because it’s a trial, you accept that there may be failure in certain areas. And you adjust the trial accordingly to take account of failure. Now, we, in our little experiment, did it in such a way that the employees opted into the policy, we had fairly strict employment laws here in New Zealand, which makes it very difficult, for example, to have people taking different days off on different weeks. So to get round it, we had to have a an opt in policy, your terms and conditions didn’t change. Now, that actually was quite useful, because it meant that we were able to say to people, Look, if this doesn’t work, if you don’t deliver the same level of productivity and customer service, we can ask you to come back to five days, when in fact, we can do more than ask, we can require you to come back to five days. And I’ve only ever had to do that sanction once in five years in my company. So in a funny sort of way. Part of the organization failing and going back to five days is actually not unhelpful. I mean, there’s an old story from British naval history. I’m an ex naval officer and then in the distant days, where there was an admiral beam who was shot on his own quarter deck to encourage the others right Now, it’s not quite the same. But having a department going back from four to five concentrates the mind of everybody else. This is not a free lunch. This is not, you know, we’re not saying work life balance dominates absolutely everything. We’re saying for this to work, it’s got to work for everybody. It’s got to work for the employees, it’s got to work for the business, it’s got to work for the customers, it’s got to work for the shareholders. And you’ve got to take this seriously, if you don’t take this seriously, it will fail. Don’t take it seriously.
Jeremy Weisz 30:41
Have you found Andrew that certain attributes of a company it works better for I’m just curious of size of a company, like if you’re less than five people or two, as an example of certain attributes, you’re like, hey, this we found have worked well, for it. Maybe if you fit in this criteria, they may not work well for?
Andrew Barnes 30:59
I don’t know. Not really, I mean, look, it’s easier to implement in smaller companies, it just is right. But even a large organization is made up of lots of small units. So if you pick things off unit by unit, so for example, you look at Unilever that was experimenting with it. Now, you know, hundreds of 1000s of employees started in New Zealand moved their experiment across after a while to Australia. And then we’ll progressively you know, roll that out bit by bit. We do say to big organizations, you know, rolling it out by department, pick the department that you think it’s going to work that gives you a good lessons, apply those lessons to the next most complex, and so on and so on. Now, if you go back to the genesis of the five day week, I think it took Henry Ford about three years, to roll it out across Ford, from working six days to working five, it wasn’t an instantaneous, you know, from tomorrow, we’re all working. We’re all working, you know, five days a week. So we’re we’re not dissimilar, we say that you’ve got to, you know, it’s not a race, in the context of being a sprint, it’s, it’s really about building something that is sustainable for the long term. Because everybody can get excited about a pilot. You’ve got to be able to go through the pilot, and then make it sustainable in the long term.
Jeremy Weisz 32:25
What happened? Adam bank? What happened there?
Andrew Barnes 32:40
Yeah, well, Adam was really interesting, because they are a UK based completely digital bank and they decided to give it a go. So this is a challenger bank. So it’s got all the attributes of you know, we say, well, it wouldn’t possibly work in tech, it couldn’t work. When I’m doing a start up that, you know, we’re growing too fast. And they implemented it. And and what they found was the same as everything else, they found their productivity improved, they found their staff turnover rates dropped enormously. They found that applicants went up, I think 500%, which is, you know, sort of extraordinary, in the context of labor markets that are getting tight, in a really, really tight and difficult to attract and retain great staff. So they’ve got themselves to the point that they didn’t just decide that they were going to, you know, they’re going to keep it, they then turn themselves in being too incredible, evangelical about the whole of the four-day week. And that’s really, Jeremy, what happens to companies that come on the journey, you know, 90 something percent of all companies on our trials come up and say, Actually, this is fantastic. And about 96% of employees. So it’s fantastic. Yeah. And so that’s what makes this work. Everybody comes out of this. And says, you know, this is a really great experience.
Jeremy Weisz 34:16
Talk about the team a little bit.
Andrew Barnes 34:20
The 4 Day Week?
Jeremy Weisz 34:21
Andrew Barnes 34:23
Well, I mean, again, we’re, we’re very accidental, in that. Initially, when we announced this, it was my phone that kept ringing. And then my partner Charlotte, she sort of picked up the mantle of trying to do a bit more organization and her phone kept on ringing. And then we got companies from all over the world, who reached out and said, How did you do this? Now, we don’t sell for two weeks, right? We were, as you know, we were a Trust Company. So what we did is we started to build for a week. Global and That means we’ve got, you know, so Alex Pang at the top and Alex, I actually came across Alex because he wrote about the Perpetual Guardian trial and he is a published author. He’s just as I have, he’s published a book on the four-day week. And Alex really runs our programs. Now he’s, he’s probably as an individual, he’s probably talked to more companies anywhere in the world about what they’re doing. In with regard to the four-day week, we’ve just appointed Dale Whelan as our chief executive, and dales based out of Ireland. He’s also, you know, he’s a, he’s a PhD, he’s been studying this a bit, he’s worked in big accounting groups worldwide. So he’s now running our sort of global team, we have about eight to nine, depending on what pilots we’re running people worldwide, because we’re running pilots in you know, Portugal, Brazil, you know, the US, North America, Europe, South Africa, we’ve got Israel coming up. So the team, really all they do is that some of them handle our social media. So people like Jack and Hazel handle our media. But other people in the teams are the guys who have got the boots on the ground, in different countries. And they are working to implement the pilots help the companies along, find the mentors for them, link the companies with other experts around the world. And then on top of that, we have our research team, which is coordinated by, you know, Professor Julian shore out of Boston College as far as quant is concerned. And Professor Brendan Burchill out of Cambridge, is doing quite a bit of our qualitative work. But we always try and have a researcher in the country where we are running a trial. So for example, you know, John, down there on the screen, is doing some of the work that we’ve got in our Australasian pilot. So it’s very much linked to where we’re running a pilot, we will always have a local research partner who handles the qualitative research on the ground.
Jeremy Weisz 37:34
It just sounds like this kind of taken on a life of its own. And I want to talk about the effects because I know you touch on the effects on the wider economy and the societal effects as well.
Andrew Barnes 37:50
Yeah, I mean, I think we’ve pretty well proven in the pilot programs that we’ve done over the last few years, that as far as a company is concerned, productivity is not impacted customer service is not impacted. So what starts to become a little bit more interesting, I think, is that what are the societal impacts, though, but let’s look a little bit at the UK data. So you know, sick days dropped 65% or thereabouts. Now, the UK loses 17 point 9 million days work days a year, occasioned by work related stress. So if you can get a 65% reduction on that. That is the equivalent of a 35 billion pound injection into the UK economy. Just off that one thing alone. If you are taking you know, people are working a four-day week, there is some research again, UK research may be a bit suspect. But they’ve said it’s the equivalent of taking the entire UK private car fleet off the wall, the road. Now, that does a massive amount of spar as carbon emissions are concerned and we are seeing the when people take a day off, they actually do low carbon activity because what they then do is they have time for doing things like cooking. So not only do they cook more healthy food, it means they’re not ordering UberEATS or the like of delivery, you know, those sort of home food delivery services, which means they’re taking further vehicles off the road, which means they are not having those sorts of issues around you know, high salt, high fat dishes, which are often prevalent in that type of takeaway. Now that’s relevant if you look at the obesity epidemic. What happens if you can spend time educating your kids? What happens if you can family cohesion? If you could do that? What happens to volunteering, you know, or your service organizations like rotary are ceasing to exist, because there isn’t time for people to take out to go and do that type of volunteering. Got a day a week, you can go back to do that sort of volunteering. Now in a rotary is an organization that cure polio worldwide for crying out loud, we lose these things. Absolutely at our peril.
Jeremy Weisz 40:40
Even this is people are on the political level are implementing us. Can you talk about some governments?
Andrew Barnes 40:47
Sure. So we are working now with the Portuguese government and Spanish government both announced government sponsored trials. I’m told that overnight German government has come out and said that the Australian Select Committee on work and care has come out and said the Australians should run a trial. We are we’ve had conversations with governments in South America, the Middle East and Europe. Lots of politicians now, and this is partly, I’m going to be a little facetious. And partly because it’s a good piece of research has come out of Oxford University that says, Will incumbent governments get reelected, the happier the people are. So if people get happier with a four day-week, maybe, you know, government’s announcing that they’ll look at it improves their chances of being reelected, you got my vote. But what I think is happening is countries just as companies have recognized that this makes them more competitive, more attractive, as a place to work. Governments are starting to do exactly the same when they look at their country. You know, we’ve got shortage of critical skills, nurses, I think, fair to say throughout the western world. So if you are the first government in the West that says, tell you what nurses work four days a week, I guarantee you won’t have a problem attracting and retaining nurses. So I think we are now at the point that the data is becoming so persuasive, and the level of debate is becoming, you know, of sufficient substance and noise, that governments are now saying, we aren’t going to have to look at this. And so legislation is coming in. I was in in Belgium, Romania, Lithuania, there was some legislation done in in Russia, there’s a variant in India and something in Japan. The UAE, of course, has gone to a four-day week. I mean, it is starting to get traction. And not necessarily in the places you would have thought right. And especially Japan with with a word for dying at the office.
Jeremy Weisz 43:26
First of all, is I want to thank you. I have one last question. But thanks for sharing your journey. Thanks for sharing this experiment that took on a life zone. I’m glad that even though the email got deleted, you just followed up with it. Um, my last question is, I’d love to hear your favorite resources. It could be books, it could be business, it could be productivity, whatever it is. I’ll start with one obviously, you can go to everyone can check out 4dayweek.com To learn more about what we’re talking about. But there’s a book actually, that is the four-day week the five is crossed out the four-day week, how the flexible work revolution can increase productivity, profitability and well being and create a sustainable future. What are some of your favorite books? Resources?
Andrew Barnes 44:19
You know, I’ve always been very bad at reading business related books. So I won’t do that very often. But one that I’ve read recently, which i i eat sort of linked to work during the four-day week is this concept of book on on donut economics, which is quite interesting, because I think it starts to say that we’ve got to build an economic model that’s working a little bit within the constraints of what the planet can actually can actually see. So I that has made quite an impression on me. And I also I have to say, I’m an avid reader of things like our bad blood on the Theranos thing, because I am, I’m of the generation that believes that businesses make money and profits. And, you know, I’m not a huge fan of fake it till you make it. So they’ve been quite, they’re sort of a bit of a diversion. But, you know, the best books, often, that I’ve read are really on the things that inspire me are things on leadership and the ability to keep going in times of crisis. So Shackleton’s books are shackles and south you know, the, the, the Weddell Sea expedition, Cherry-Garrard, ‘The Worst Journey in the World’. These are, you know, fantastic books where you look at these people, and you go, Oh, my goodness, you know, what is it that drove you? What is it that sustains you through the really difficult times? And and, you know, I’m always inspired by that, that quote from from Churchill, you know, where he talks about that debt is not final failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts. And, you know, you look back on your own career, and you go, you know, what, yeah, at any point in time, it would have been far easier to just give up and uneven with a four-day week, you know, it’s, it’s completely taken over our lives in the last five years, we are resigned to doing calls at all hours of the night, because people all over the world, you know, want to talk about it. And we don’t make money out of the four-day week. It’s our not for profit, it’s a view. I think that charlatan I took that you don’t get many chances to change the world. And really, this happens to be our chance. And it’s sometimes easier to walk away from that, rather than to say No, dammit, we’re gonna make it happen.
Jeremy Weisz 47:35
Andrew, I’m gonna be first one to thank you. Thanks for sharing your journey. The story everyone check out 4dayweek.com to learn more and more episodes of the podcast and Andrew, thanks so much.
Andrew Barnes 47:47
Thanks, Jeremy. Good to be here.