Four-day working week trial to launch in the UK

The benefits of a shorter work week have been debated for years, and it appears that more firms are now prepared to take the risk as the Covid-19 pandemic transforms the global work model for the better.

The 4 Day Week campaign, think tank Autonomy, and researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University, and Boston College are collaborating on an experiment to investigate if employees can work at 100% efficiency for 80% of the time. 

This is a global initiative with trials taking place this year in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as trials being launched this month by the Scottish and Spanish governments.

What is a four-day working week?
The four-day work week allows employees to work fewer days while yet getting the same amount of work done. 

Employees, for example, might work 10-hour shifts spread out over four days instead of five eight-hour stints spread out from Monday to Friday. 

Because the employee's contracted hours are still met, they can maintain the same pay rate.

According to the Left Foot Forward survey released in October of last year, 60% of the British public support implementing a four-day work week, and two-thirds of UK firms that do so claim increased employee productivity.

Why is it being implemented?
According to the 4 Day Week campaign, the traditional 9 to 5, 5-day work week is no longer viable; it’s obsolete and unfit for purpose. 

The goal of this experiment is to implement a four-day workweek that benefits employees, employers, the economy, society, and the environment.

According to the campaign, the experiment would provide these benefits to the workforce:

  • Increased productivity and earnings 
According to a 2019 Henley Business School research, 250 companies that worked a four-day week saved £92 billion per year because their staff were happier, less stressed, and took less sick days.

  • Greater talent 
By shortening the workweek, companies may recruit and keep more talented people.

  • Unemployment rate is lower 
Overwork, unemployment, and underemployment are all present in the United Kingdom. A four-day workweek is a straightforward solution to rebalance the economy and address a variety of issues. 

  • Improved emotional and physical well-being
A shorter work week will allow for more time to rest, exercise, socialise, and spend time with loved ones.

  • A more environmentally friendly way of life 
With more free time, we can make ecologically friendly decisions such as cycling and walking instead of driving, and cooking with fresh ingredients instead of buying energy-intensive prepackaged meals. 

  • Carbon footprint reduction 
According to research, a four-day week could cut the UK's carbon footprint by 127 million tonnes per year, which is the equivalent of removing 27 million automobiles off the road.

How does the trial work?
4 Day Week Global has advocated for the change since it helps employees be more productive while also allowing them to have a better work-life balance. 

Workers will be paid 100% for 80% of their time, but they must commit to offer 100% productivity. This is known as the 100:80:100 model. 

Joe O'Connor, the pilot programme manager for 4 Day Week Global, said:

“The four-day week challenges the current model of work and helps companies move away from simply measuring how long people are ‘at work’, to a sharper focus on the output being produced. 2022 will be the year that heralds in this bold new future of work.”

Which companies are taking part?
The study will run around six months, and participating firms will receive assistance from specialists, researchers, and academics. 

The following companies are taking part in this pilot programme:

  • 3D Issue
  • Advice Direct Scotland
  • Atom Bank 
  • Autonomy
  • Big Potato Games
  • Blink
  • Canon
  • CMG Technologies
  • Causeway Irish Housing Association
  • Charlton Morris
  • Common Knowledge
  • Crystallised
  • Earth Science Partnership
  • Elektra Lighting
  • Evolved
  • Flocc
  • Four Day Week Ltd
  • Geeks for Social Change
  • Gracefruit
  • Legacy Events
  • MRL
  • People and Transformational HR
  • Punch Creative
  • Resilience Brokers 
  • Reward Agency 
  • Stop AIDS
  • Sinister Fish Games
  • Social Enterprise Direct
  • Softer Success
  • StreamGo
  • T-Cup Studios
  • Target Publishing
  • Technovent
  • The Circle
  • The UPAC Group
  • Venture Stream 
  • YWCA Scotland

The majority of these businesses are 'Gold standard,' meaning they provide a permanent 32-hour (or fewer) four-day workweek with no pay loss. 

Organisations interested in participating in the trial programme should register here.

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