Thousands of UK workers begin 4-day working week trial

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More than 3,300 workers from 70 UK companies, ranging from small consultancies to large financial firms, have started working a four-day week without loss of pay in what program organizers call the world’s biggest trial of a shorter working week.

The pilot program, which launched on June 6 and will run for six months, is run by non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global, with offices in London and New York, in partnership with London-based think tank Autonomy , the British group 4 Day Week Campaign and researchers from the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and Boston College.

Researchers will analyze how employees react to having an extra day off, looking at areas such as stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, health, sleep, energy consumption, etc. energy and travel.

Joe O’Connor, chief executive of 4 Day Week Global, said the pilot schemes put the UK at the forefront of the four-day week movement. “As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognizing that the new frontier of competition is quality of life, and that short-time, performance-driven work is the way to give them an edge. competitive,” he said.
The Guardian.

June 6,
O’Connor tweeted“It’s a historic day, as the lives of more than 3,000 workers and their families are transformed by their companies’ pioneering and forward-thinking approach to taking a new approach to the way we organize work. “

Shorter work week options

Employers participating in the pilot program have agreed to adjust working hours to fit one of the following options:


  • “Gold” participants adopt a permanent week of 32 hours (or less) over four days, with reduced hours and no loss of pay. There is also an option to spread the 32 hours over five days.

  • “Silver” participants adopt a permanent week of 35 hours (or less) over four days, with reduced hours and no loss of pay.

The group 4 Day Week Global said it advocates a “100-80-100” model: 100% of the wages of workers, who put in 80% of their traditional working time, in exchange for maintaining 100% of their productivity , according to the band’s website.

To weigh the pros and cons

The UK pilot program follows several other trials of shorter working weeks in different countries. “Trials by large companies such as Microsoft in Japan and Buffer in the US have shown that a four-day week increases productivity,” the UK’s 4-day week campaign posted on its website.

“Over the next 6 months, over 3,000 UK workers will enjoy the equivalent of a standard public holiday each week,”
the band tweeted. “And the best thing about it? It could be the future of work for everyone.”

But maybe not. An article in the
harvard business review recently pointed out that a study of New Zealand’s move to a four-day working week found that “not only has work intensified as a result of the change, but so have managerial pressures around performance measurement , tracking and productivity,” according to the authors of the paper, researchers Emma Russell at the University of Sussex, Caroline Murphy at the University of Limerick and Esme Terry at the University of Leeds.

“New Zealand’s trial of the four-day working week raises alarm bells that reducing working days has not necessarily created welfare benefits, as workers have to struggling to meet the demands of their position,” the researchers noted. “It’s perhaps telling that much of the publicity around the success of Microsoft Japan’s four-day work week trial was based on how productivity increased dramatically over the period of Employers may need to be careful not to promote outcomes over wellbeing if they want to be seen as investing in the work-life balance of their workforce.”

Still, there is plenty of evidence that many employees and job applicants would support a move to a four-day work week.

Employees want flexibility

Ladders, a San Francisco-based executive and professional search firm, recently surveyed more than 400 active candidates on its search service platform and found that 79% said they had already left or would leave a job of five. days a week for a four-day weekday job, provided there is no pay cut.

“While this strongly indicates a hiring advantage for employers offering four-day work weeks, nothing is set in stone,” said Ladders CEO Dave Fisch.

The decision to try a shorter workweek should be made after “careful weighing of the pros and cons for their businesses”, he advised.

However, employers who aren’t pursuing a shorter workweek may want to “consider other flexible options, or they may struggle to retain and replace talented people in the future,” Fisch said.


Related SHRM articles:

What Employers Need to Know Before Trying a 4-Day Work Week
harvard business review Going through
SHRM onlineJune 2022

Do you want to switch to a 4-day work week? Here’s how to run a pilot, SHRM Executive Network, January 2022

The manager’s perspective on the 4-day work week,
SHRM onlineMarch 2022

Advice from a CEO on adopting a four-day rotating work week,
SHRM onlineJuly 2021

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