The 4-day work week works. So why aren't we using it?

A New Zealand study shows a 24% increase in productivity... by working less.

A study conducted by a New Zealand business confirmed what many of us have felt on Friday afternoons: a 5-day work week really isn't that effective. The study went one further and gave credence to slackers everywhere: a 4-day work week is actually more productive than a 5-day work week. 


Perpetual Guardian, a wealth management firm in Wellington, New Zealand ran the experiment for 8 weeks and hired two researchers to report back on the findings of the study. According to the New York Times, employees saw a 24% increase in productivity and a better work-life balance. That's not all: all meetings were truncated from two hours to half an hour each. Sound like heaven in an office setting?

The company's founder, Andrew Barnes, put the idea of the 4-day work week into motion after reading about a Business Insider article about how a 40 hour work week might be 5 hours too long and how workplace distractions are as productivity-killing as smoking pot or losing sleep.  

An HR professor at the University of Auckland, Jarrod Harr, confirms that the findings were extremely beneficial to the company. “They worked out where they were wasting time and worked smarter, not harder,” he said, “Supervisors said staff were more creative, their attendance was better, they were on time, and they didn’t leave early or take long breaks. TTheir actual job performance didn’t change when doing it over four days instead of five.”

America, on the other hand, works more than any other developed country with an average of 47 hours a week, according to a 2014 Gallup poll. 1 in 5 American workers work through their lunch, while Republican lawmakers seemingly want to do away with retirement savings, meaning that we may all just work until we're dead. Which is an odd, Puritanical, and deeply troubling sentiment that some Americans are all too proud to crow about. With zero guaranteed maternity or paternity leave, American workers really are getting the short end of the stick.

It makes you wonder: are Perpetual Guardian hiring? Yes, they are.  

Ha Jin on the wild and tragic life of China's greatest poet, Li Bai

The 8th century AD was a tough time to be a genius from a poor family in China. Poet and novelist Ha Jin on the tortured life of the legendary drunken poet Li Bai. Also: panpsychism, the value of idleness, and humanities education in America today.

Think Again Podcasts
  • "I knew in the case of Li Bai, I should follow the poems. Every masterpiece by him would be kind of a small crisis…a center for drama in his life."
  • "There are people who want a different kind of fulfillment. Society should be open to that. In the long run, you don't know—maybe those idlers can produce more for the society."
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: the rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Billionaire warlords: Why the future is medieval

The world's next superpower might just resurrect the Middle Ages.

Videos
  • Russia? China? No. The rising world superpower is the billionaire class. Our problem, says Sean McFate, is that we're still thinking in nation states.
  • Nation states have only existed for the last 300-400 years. Before that, wealthy groups – tribes, empires, aristocracies, etc – employed mercenaries to wage private wars.
  • As wealth inequality reaches combustion point, we could land back in the status quo ante of the Middle Ages. Who will our overlords be? Any or all of the 26 ultra-rich billionaires who own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest. What about Fortune 500, which is more powerful than most of the states in the world? Random billionaires, multinational corporations, and the extractive industry may buy armies and wage war on their own terms.
Keep reading Show less