Last year 61 UK companies committed to a four-day workweek trial—and most aren’t going back to a traditional five-day workweek.
- In a study that ran from June 2022 to December 2022, 61 companies committed to testing a four-day workweek.
- Now that the trial is over, most are not returning to the traditional work week, and about one-third of participants are making the change permanent, Bloomberg reports.
- Three companies paused the experiment mid-trial, and two are considering reduced hours during the week.
- The rest of the business participants have been won over to the four-day model by increased revenue, reduced turnover, and less employee burnout.
- The UK trial, which is the largest conducted, confirmed the findings of smaller trials run in the U.S., Ireland, and Australia.
Why it’s news
The New Zealand non-profit advocacy group, 4-Day Week Global, runs these four-day workweek experiments. Through a series of trials, the group is collecting data on the effects of shorter work weeks and is beginning to study the long-term effects of the abbreviated week.
While the tests have favored the four-day week, the organization’s trials have some flaws. Participants opt-in, meaning the company leaders already prefer the shorter work week and invest in training and planning to ensure the new schedule will be successful.
Though the trial has some flaws, it gives insight into how an abbreviated work week could one day be the norm in certain industries. Employees reported less stress and fatigue, and their personal lives improved.
None of the employees who participated wanted to return to the traditional work week. About 15% said no pay increase could persuade them to return to the standard workweek.
Despite strong reception from employees, other studies in the UK indicated that residents want more work hours—not less. As the cost of living increases, many see additional work hours as a way to boost their income, Bloomberg reports.
One of the difficulties with implementing a four-day workweek is that employees would still want the same pay for a day less of work. However, recent trials have shown that a reduced workweek could increase production.
Revenue in participating businesses increased 35% compared to the year before and rose 1.4% during the trial period. The companies themselves rated the effects on productivity as generally positive. Companies have reduced employee turnover and fewer no-shows.
One company that permanently adopted the new schedule, environmental consultancy Tyler Grange, reported that the company lost 18 fewer days per month to employee sickness, and productivity increased by more than 20%. Employees were also satisfied with the changes, as they say that the extra day at home allowed them to reduce spending on childcare and commuting.