FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian walks past the New Zealand parliament building known as the Beehive in central Wellington, New Zealand, July 3, 2017. Picture taken July 3, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

In a Facebook Live video, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern advocated for a four-day workweek to “help rebuild the nation’s economy in the wake of the coronavirus.” She encouraged employers in the country to “think about whether or not that is something that could work” for their workplace due to its potential benefits for the tourism industry. Ardern added that, to begin with, companies could move employees to four-day workweeks at 80 percent pay. Once productivity increased, employees could have their pay increased to previous levels.

New Zealand businessman Andrew Barnes previously “gained worldwide attention when his company Perpetual Guardian and 200 employees transitioned to the structure in 2018.” Barnes found that “productivity had increased by 20%, and employees were more engaged and enthusiastic.” He said that a transition into that structure could help “rebuild the economy and particularly the hard-hit tourism market.” According to December 2019 statistics, tourism is New Zealand’s “largest export industry.” 

However, a study published in February by Visual Capitalist using data from the World Happiness Study of 2019 and the OECD found that shorter workweeks are not a “one size fits all” solution due to the level of nuance between industries and job types in various countries. 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Jacinda Ardern says a 4-day workweek could help New Zealand’s economy recover from the coronavirus downturn – Business Insider – 5/20/2020
Speaking in a Facebook Live video on Monday, Ardern said the country’s tourism industry was suffering especially, and a four-day work week would allow people to travel their country more easily. “The question for me is, how do we encourage Kiwis to … get out and about and visit some of the amazing places and tourism offerings that we have,” she asked.

Could The 4-Day Work Week Be the Way to Recover From Coronavirus? New Zealand Thinks So. – Vice – 5/20/2020
“I’d really encourage people to think about that if you’re an employer and in a position to do so,” Ardern said. “To think about if that’s something that would work for your workplace because it certainly would help tourism all around the country.”

New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern suggests four-day workweek could help rebuild economy after coronavirus pandemic – Fox News – 5/20/2020
The country’s success in mitigating the spread of the virus has been somewhat overshadowed by its now wilting economy. […] “New Zealand is about to enter a very tough winter,” she said. “But every winter eventually is followed by spring, and if we make the right choices we can get New Zealanders back to work and our economy working quickly again.”

Four-day weeks could be key to New Zealand’s Covid-19 recovery, says Ardern – The Guardian – 5/20/2020
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has suggested employers consider a four-day working week and other flexible working options as a way to boost tourism and help employees address persistent work/life balance issues.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Amelia Womack on Twitter, 5/20/2020: A four day week creates higher productivity alongside lower stress & a work-life balance. We need to be thinking differently about the future of work. At @TheGreenParty we have been championing a four day week for years, now lets make it a reality. https://t.co/40NQDe5MMj

Angela Priestley on Twitter, 5/20/2020: Just when you think she can’t do anymore, Jacinda Ardern now talking up the four day work week. There’s a good case for three day weekends to support domestic tourism in New Zealand, as they could in Australia too. https://t.co/TdByRiB29x

Natalie Daher on Twitter, 5/20/2020: “It’s wild for me, living in a nation h*llbent on literally working its residents to death, to hear a leader suggest the key to stimulating the economy is to work less.”

Dylan Reeve on Twitter, 5/20/2020: Oh sure, I think many jobs would be fine a four day week… But I suspect businesses that are already stressed aren’t going to be willing to make a somewhat counterintuitive move right now.

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