Around 30 UK companies are taking part in a six month trial to test a four day work week.
The campaign was created by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University, Boston College and think tank Autonomy.
4 Day Week Global, a New Zealand-based non-profit, says employees at companies that participate in the program don’t have to take a pay cut. Participants are asked to remain at 100% productivity for 80% of their time.
“Work is changing because now we’re all working remotely or flexibly or a combination of both,” Charlotte Lockhart, founder and CEO of 4 Day Week Global, told FOX Business. “This (program) doesn’t necessarily preclude that. It’s saying that we can apply some of the things we’ve learned, how we measure productivity, how we value people working at their jobs when we can’t see them, and the tools and lessons from the Using the pandemic to find a way we can get our work done in less time.”
Joe Connor, pilot program manager for 4 Day Week Global, told FOX Business the organization provides companies with support, training, networking, mentoring and research support for enrollment.
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“Our expectation is that the results are likely to be consistent with most of the data we’ve seen on this topic around the world.” [says], which means reduced hours can have serious benefits for burnout, stress and overwork,” O’Connor said.
The discussion about a four-day working week has gained momentum in recent years, and some countries have already adopted different models of shorter working hours. O’Connor said that demand and interest in a four-day work week has “grown exponentially” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“An important factor in that — which might not have been the case two or three years ago — is recruitment and retention,” O’Connor said. “You know, more and more companies are coming up with the (four-day) workweek idea, which might have offered their employees remote work or flexible working or some version of that, and that was a competitive advantage for them. Now it’s almost a competitive disadvantage if you don’t offer that.”
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In 2019, Microsoft tested a four-day workweek experiment in Japan and found that there was a significant increase in productivity when working hours were reduced to encourage a better work-life balance. Employees actually sold more while the company reduced overhead expenses.
In September, Scotland announced plans to trial a four-day work week, while Spain, New Zealand, Japan and Iceland have previously introduced their own trials.
Switching to fewer hours is said to have a number of benefits, including increased productivity and an overall better attitude among workers.
However, according to Deutsche Welle, not all countries have had success with the model.
The Swedish trial produced mixed results, mainly due to employer opposition to the plan, and the plan was not renewed for a longer period.
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In most cases, the cut is not a flat day less, but rather spread over several days: in Sweden, the hours of each day were chopped, resulting in five days of six-hour shifts, while others included afternoons off.
Peter Aitken of FOX Business contributed to this report.