On the 6th of June Monday morning, the world’s largest trial of the four-day week began in the UK. The six-month-long trial, which was organized by 4 Day Week Global, will see 70 companies, totalling more than 3,300 employees, test out a 100:80:100 work pattern. This means that 100% of the pay is for 80% of the time and 100% productivity. Participating companies include companies in education, finance, hospitality, and recruitment. Juliet Schor, the lead researcher, stated that the four-day week was generally viewed as a triple dividend policy. It helps employees, companies and the environment. Similar trials are underway in Spain and Scotland.

Why is the 4-day work week suddenly so popular?

The idea is well-known and has gained popularity around the world over the past decade. Studies have shown that reducing work hours can increase productivity and profits for companies. A four-day work week is also known to be beneficial for mental health and gender equality in the workplace, as well as reducing carbon emissions.

Each participating organization will be surveyed by researchers to determine its impact on productivity and well-being, as well as on the environment and gender equality.

Juliet Schor, a professor of sociology at Boston College and lead researcher on the pilot, described it as a “historic trial”. “We’ll be analysing how employees respond to having an extra day off, in terms of stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, health, sleep, energy use, travel and many other aspects of life,” she said.

“The four-day week is generally considered to be a triple-dividend policy – helping employees, companies, and the climate. Our research efforts will be digging into all of this.”

Ed Siegel, chief executive of Charity Bank, said it was proud to be one of the first banks in the UK to embrace the four-day week. “We have long been a champion of flexible working, but the pandemic really moved the goalposts in this regard. For Charity Bank, the move to a four-day week seems a natural next step.

“The 20th-century concept of a five-day working week is no longer the best fit for 21st-century business. We firmly believe that a four-day week with no change to salary or benefits will create a happier workforce and will have an equally positive impact on business productivity, customer experience and our social mission.”

 

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