This month has seen the start of the world’s largest trial of a 4-day working week. Over 70 organisations worldwide have signed up to the trial, which involves more than 3,000 UK employees. Those firms taking part include office-based software developers, housing, food and beverages, workplace consultancy, skincare, housing, and recruitment firms.
The purpose of the trial
The purpose of the trial, which takes place over a six-month period, is to determine whether working four days a week instead of the traditional five improves employee wellbeing and productivity. Employees participating in the trial will get their full salary but will only work 80% of their standard hours.
The 4 Day Week Global Campaign is coordinating the scheme with researchers from Oxford and Cambridge universities, experts from Boston College and the Autonomy think tank. They believe that with the Covid-19 pandemic having already changed many aspects of our working lives, it’s now the right time to test out different working practices.
The pilot scheme follows a 100:80:100 model of 100% of pay for 80% of working hours. Employees, in exchange, must commit to maintaining 100% productivity.
It will mean that workers must use their reduced working hours as effectively as possible to achieve the same level of performance. However, it’s anticipated that an extra rest day will improve staff wellbeing and make workers feel motivated to work harder.
What can be gained from a 4-day working week?
According to the researchers, companies will benefit even if employees are only 10% more productive, including improved staff morale, recruitment and retention and reduced sickness.
Researchers will work with each firm participating in the scheme to measure the impact on productivity, employee wellbeing, gender equality and the environment.
The pilot scheme is part of a global initiative running alongside smaller schemes in Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US. Similar government-backed four-day week trials are expected to roll out in Spain and Scotland later this year.
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