Unilever pays its employees 5 days a week, but only makes them work 4. At least, at its headquarters in New Zealand. The Dutch-British company, owner of 400 of the most popular brands in food and hygiene products (from Lipton tea to Dove soap), has decided to start its short week’s test with 81 employees in the island state. Oceania. After 12 months, Unilever will analyze the productivity of the New Zealand branch and, if positive, is ready to extend the work week by 4 days for all of its 155,000 employees worldwide.
The goal is to be able to focus a week’s work duties into just 4 days, while still staying within traditional business hours. “If you end up working 4 days with significantly longer hours, we haven’t hit the target,” Nick Bangs, chief executive of Unilever New Zealand, told the Financial Times. “It’s about fundamentally changing the way we work,” he concluded.
The group’s move is among the most ambitious efforts yet to test a work practice that, according to supporters, makes workers happier, healthier – and first and foremost the company cares – more productive. Unilever isn’t the first company in the world to test the 4-day workweek. Over the course of at least two years, there have been many trials by large companies, although critics argue that one less day of work per week could lead to many companies losing out. This is not the case for Microsoft, which said employee productivity increased when, for August last year, it provided a 4-day week to its employees in Japan, a country where working hours are known to be among the highest. Globalism.
Considering quitting Wednesdays or Thursdays, effectively breaking the work week, Nick Bange said he was inspired by Andrew Barnes, founder of Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand property planning firm. The man made headlines in 2018 when he said that giving his 240 employees full pay for two months resulted in a massive increase in productivity that made change permanent. Since then, Barnes has created a non-profit group to promote four days a week, and in May, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suggested such measures could boost local tourism.
According to Nick Bangs, the pandemic has shaken up conventional thinking about business dynamics. “Let’s imagine a hybrid business future, where people can spend two days in the office and two or three days at home or working remotely,” said Alan Job, CEO of Unilever.
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