The founder of a firm that has switched to a four-day week claims that productivity has shot up by a staggering 20% whilst also improving staff wellbeing.

The Guardian reports that Perpetual Guardian (no link between the firms, despite the name similarities) switched its staff to a four-day week last November and did not cut pay.

The NZ-based firm claim that productivity has increased, staff stress has been reduced, and profits have also been boosted.

The trial, monitored by local boffins, found that work-life balance scores shot up from 54% to 78% whilst stress levels dropped to 38% from 45%.

Speaking to The Guardian, Andrew Barnes, the firm’s founder, said: “This is an idea whose time has come.

“We need to get more companies to give it a go. They will be surprised at the improvement in their company, their staff and in their wider community.”

In the UK, the largest company to date revealed in January that it would consider moving to a four-day week.

The Wellcome Trust announced that they are considering moving its 800 head office staff to the new pattern in a bid to boost productivity and improve work-life balance.

If the scheme goes ahead, it would allow staff to take Friday off with no cut in pay.

A trial of the new system could start as early as this autumn, with a final decision due within the next few months.

There has been steadily growing pressure in the UK for more organisations to adopt a shorter working week. The Trades Unions Congress (TUC) last year called for a reduction of working hours in the UK, citing research that found almost half of workers want a four-day week.

The Union said that UK workers put in the longest hours in the EU, behind only Austria and Greece. But Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at the Manchester Business School, previously told HR Grapevine that working longer hours does not lead to stronger productivity.

“We have the longest working hours in Europe”, he said. “And the second longest in the developed world. But our productivity is amongst the lowest.”

Smaller firms experimenting with the four-day week have found performance is often boosted in the first few weeks – potentially due to excitement at the new scheme – before falling slightly.