Almost a century ago, the UK reduced its working week from 6 days to 5, and there’s now a movement gaining traction to reduce our working week to 4 days.
73 firms recently started a trial of the 4 day working week where employees work 80% of their usual hours, but retain their full salaries. This trial is the work of campaign group 4 Day Week and is running alongside similar pilot schemes in other countries such as the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
The theory is that a 4 day working week, or working 32 hours per week, is not just a benefit for employees, but is multifaceted. The advantages for workers are fairly obvious, more rest or leisure time, better work life balance, more time to take care of the never-ending life admin. Plus financial advantages, such as reducing the cost of childcare and commuting. But it’s believed, and a number of studies support, that there are other advantages:
- Employers – Increased productivity, reduced costs and talent attraction
- The economy – reduce unemployment, increase productivity and boost tourism
- Society – improved physical and mental health, supports gender equality, strengthens communities
- The environment – reduced carbon footprint and encourage a more sustainable lifestyle
How does it work?
The firms taking part were surveyed part way through the trial period and the feedback was generally positive, with 86% of respondents saying they would continue with the 4 days working week after the trial ends in December. Some firms reported that the change took some getting used to, but once employees got used to it the impact has been very positive and productivity has stayed the same or improved.
There is also a large amount of data from studies in other countries that supports the 4 day working week.
The disadvantages of reducing the working week seem to be hard to find, one study indicated that customer satisfaction could be reduced if offices were closed one day per week, but this could simply be managed with shift work or using technology. Alongside this, some confuse the 4 day working week with compressed hours which contrarily tends to reduce productivity and work-life balance.
We’re looking forward to hearing what happens next when the pilot scheme is complete in December.
We think the argument for reducing the working week is compelling, the facts and study results are undeniable, but equally this would need to work differently in different types of business. If this is something you’d like to consider we’re ready to help – get in touch on email@example.com.