Trade unions have begun calling (paywall) for shorter weeks in the UK, and there’s some global precedent. New Zealand-based estate-planning firm Perpetual Guardian instituted a four-day week for its 250 staff last October. A trial of the policy found that staff stress levels reduced by seven percentage points. In designing the trial, the company worked with academics to find ways staff could be more productive, including automating some processes, and eliminating non-work internet use.

Andrew Barnes, Perpetual Guardian’s founder, said in an email to Quartz that society needs to have “a broader conversation about modern working hours and conditions and how they affect family life.”

“When senior executives are doing a four-day week, one facet of the glass ceiling holding women back is removed,” Barnes said. “It improves the gender balance, closes the pay gap, and offers more flexibility to allow for family and childcare obligations.”

Some, like Laura Carstensen of Stanford University, argue that working less intensively at the points in careers when people are busiest, for example with young children, makes so much sense that we should push any full-time working later in life. What’s special about the four-day week experiment is that it mandates a change for all workers, in the process leveling the gender-playing field in a more meaningful way than unconscious bias training, hiring policy changes, or pay reviews have yet managed.

This story was updated to include comment from Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes.

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