Four Day Week Trial produces Positive Results…But What Next?
How does the notion of working fewer days a week for the same annual salary sound? Too good to be true? Well, it could be a reality for many employees in the near future if the results of the first four day working week UK trial are to be believed.
Organised by 4 Day Week Global, an international foundation which funds research into the future of work and workplace wellbeing, the trial took place between June and December 2022 and involved organisations across the UK, including both non-profits and private enterprises. It was monitored by academics from both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, as well as Boston College and the results were published in February this year.
According to 4 Day Week Global, we’re overdue an update to our working practices. The foundation asserts that, while we moved from working six days a week to five approximately 100 years ago, it’s now time to go even further by reducing the standard working week from 40 to 32 hours in order to achieve a better work-life balance.
The notion is that employees will happily work in a more efficient and effective way for four days, if they’re afforded another day of the week to themselves in return. It creates a kind of ‘bank holiday buzz’ during the four working days, that ensures performance and productivity can be sustained at a high level, while also affording staff an additional opportunity to rest and recuperate, as well as indulging their hobbies and interests, during their extra rest day.
So far, the results of the UK trial would seem to support 4 Day Week Global’s proposition. 61 organisations took part in the trial. At its conclusion, 56 confirmed they intended to extend the trial period, with 18 making the change permanent. That’s a whopping 92% intending to keep the four-day week going, at least a little longer. These results, we’re told, largely mirror the outcome of earlier pilots in Ireland and the US.
So, what’s so good about the four day week?
Well, it definitely worked for the trial employees. Of the 2,900 who took part, 39% reported being less stressed, 40% reported sleeping better and 54% said they found it easier to balance work and home life.
It also produced positive outcomes for the organisations themselves. They reported being satisfied with productivity and business performance during the trial, that sick days had fallen by about two-thirds and that staff turnover had been more than halved. Given the talent shortage we’re currently living through, and the difficulties businesses are facing recruiting and retaining staff as a result, these are benefits employers can’t afford to ignore.