On March 25th, the New Zealand government implemented level four of lockdown amid fears of the rapid spread of the Coronavirus. Following these strict lockdown procedures that lasted for two months, the government has begun to relax measures, bringing their alert level down from level four to level two. Whilst New Zealand may appear to be returning back to ‘normal’, there are certain concerns how far away they actually are, especially in regards to their economy.
With international and domestic travel limited, New Zealand, like other tourist-rich spots, has suffered tremendously. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered a Facebook live video that detailed plans for a new working week that aims to improve living and working conditions and could be the new future for New Zealand.
Ardern claimed that for many, having a four-day working week would provide New Zealanders with increased freedom, encouraging more to travel domestically to help rebuild the economy.
“There is just so much we’ve learnt about Covid and that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that,” Ardern states.
The outbreak of the Coronavirus has highlighted the capability of businesses to operate from home, reducing overall costs that the company has to pay out.
Andrew Barnes, founder of Perpetual Guardian, made the shift to a four-day working week back in 2018, claiming it worked wonders on his employees who experienced an improvement in mental and physical health and family and social lives. Implementing a three-day weekend for his employees provided them with the time to travel domestically and spend more time with their families and loved ones.
Barnes states, “New Zealand could definitely go to a four-day week in the aftermath of Covid, and in fact it would be a strategy to rebuild the economy and particularly the hard-hit tourism market as it pivots to a domestic focus.”
New Zealand is renowned for its tourist spots, with the highly popular Hobbiton Movie Set on the North Island, down to small fishing and coastal villages in the South. The Coronavirus has hit this country like a storm, with tourism providing $16.2 billion a year. Introducing a four-day working week is crucial to the rebuilding of the tourism sector until international travel is again permitted.
New Zealand has set a leading example as a country who clamped down early on the spread of the Coronavirus. Harvesting 1154 cases, and only 22 deaths, this country is beginning to take the next steps towards re-opening things for business. Whilst their journey back to ‘normality’ is only just beginning, they are certainly paving the way for future success.