86% of companies on 4-day week pilot ‘likely to retain new working practice’

Some 86% of companies taking part in a trial of a four-day working week have said they are likely to extend the policy beyond the six-month test period.

Part-time workers


The vast majority of companies involved in a four-day week pilot which means employees work four days a week for five days’ pay say it is working for them and that they are likely to consider retaining it after the trial.

Seventry organisations signed up for the six-month trial, which kicked off at the beginning of June and is being run by  in partnership with leading think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week Campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University.

Benefits claimed for a four-day week include increased motivation and wellbeing, reduced absence rate, in some cases increased productivity and, most recently, cost of living savings from a reduction in community costs and things like childcare costs.  Autonomy claims someone with a child under two would save £1,440 in childcare on average across a year from working one day less a week

According to a survey it undertook at the halfway stage in the pilot, to which 41 of the companies responded, 88% of respondents stated that the four-day week is working ‘well’ for their business at this stage in the trial and  86% stated that at this juncture in the trial, they would be ‘likely’ to consider retaining the four-day week policy after the trial period.

Forty-six per cent say their business productivity has ‘maintained around the same level’ while 34% report that it has ‘improved slightly’, and 15% say it has ‘improved significantly. Asked how smooth the transition to a four-day week has been (with 5 being ‘extremely smooth’ and ‘1’ being ‘extremely challenging’), 29% of respondents selected ‘5’, 49% selected ‘4’ and 20% selected ‘3’.

Joe O’Connor, CEO of 4 Day Week Global, said: “The organisations in the United Kingdom pilot are contributing real-time data and knowledge that are worth their weight in gold. Essentially, they are laying the foundation for the future of work by putting a four-day week into practice, across every size of business and nearly every sector.

“We are learning that for many it is a fairly smooth transition and for some there are some understandable hurdles – especially among those which have comparatively fixed or inflexible practices, systems, or cultures which date back well into the last century.

“While for most organisations the pilot prompts many pleasing discoveries and outcomes – a lot of businesses have more flexibility and nimbleness among their people and teams that leaders often know at the outset – there is friction for others, and this can be based on a variety of factors, many of which can be addressed or substantially improved in the pilot itself. 4 Day Week Global and our partners are supporting these businesses to ease their transition to a flexible work model, and using the findings to inform the process for many more businesses to trial, adapt, and reap the benefits of emphasising productivity over time – thereby transforming the world of work for all of us.”

The UK firms involved in the pilot range from small enterprises to large corporates and span most sectors, including education, workplace consultancy, IT software training and food and beverage and hospitality.

Claire Daniels, CEO at Trio Media, one of the employers taking part, said: “The four-day week trial so far has been extremely successful for us. Productivity has remained high, with an increase in wellness for the team, along with our business performing 44% better financially.”

Nicci Russell, Managing Director of Waterwise, another of the trial employers, said the pilot initially involved a learning curve: “We’re proud to be involved in the trial and it’s going well for us. It wasn’t a walk in the park at the start but no major change ever is. We have all had to work at it – some weeks are easier than others and things like annual leave can make it harder to fit everything in – but we’re much more settled with it now overall than we were at the start. We managed to incorporate a big media blitz on water efficiency – water efficiency is our bread and butter – over the summer, which added to workload, but we still managed to stick to the four-day week and the standard working hours, and the team are pretty happy. We certainly all love the extra day out of the office and do come back refreshed. It’s been great for our wellbeing and we’re definitely more productive already.”

Labour MP Peter Dowd has tabled a new parliamentary bill to introduce a four-day week to Britain. He called for a reduction in working hours from 40 to 32 a week and said British workers currently work the longest hours in Europe.

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