Queen Elizabeth II 1926 - 2022

Firms involved in four-day week pilot satisfied with progress

Firms that signed up to take part in a four-day working week trial have reported the scheme is going well at the halfway point.

The survey shows productivity at the same level or growing in the majority of cases.

More than 3,300 UK workers, representing more than 30 sectors, are receiving 100 per cent of the pay for 80 per cent of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 per cent productivity.

Productivity gains

A large majority of those who responded (86 per cent) have said they would consider it beyond the six-month pilot which started in June.

The scheme is being run by 4 Day Work Week Global, a not-for-profit group, alongside think-tank Autonomy, researchers at Boston College and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the 4 Day Week campaign.

Almost half (46 per cent) said that productivity had remained at around the same level’, 34 per cent reported a ‘slight’ improvement and 15 per cent a ‘significant’ one.

While the scheme is working well for many, there is plenty to think about before embracing a four-day week.

Advantages of a four-day working week

Running costs: Given the huge rise in energy costs, closing for a day could make a significant difference as well as employees saving on travelling and subsistence costs.

Increased productivity: The survey figures are a key indicator of productivity being stable or increasing slightly or substantially.

Work/life balance: More free time allows people to relax more and be better refreshed when returning to the office. This in turn can lead to an improvement in wellbeing.

Recruitment and retention: The offer of four-day working can be a great incentive for both recruitment and retention of staff and is a great way to attract the best talent.

It doesn’t suit every business model and there are many potential drawbacks to consider and monitor whether it helps the competition.

Longer working days: Condensing a 40-hour week into four days could lead to extended shifts and create stress with shifts possibly extended to 10 hours. This could affect wellbeing and productivity.

Holiday entitlement headaches: By reducing the number of hours people are working each week,  firms need to re-calculate the holiday they’re entitled to.

Joe O’Connor, CEO of 4 Day Week Global, said: “We are learning that for many it is a fairly smooth transition and for some, there are some understandable hurdles – especially among those which have comparatively fixed or inflexible practices, systems or cultures which date back well into the last century.”

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