Four-day workweek to stay, say UK firms in world's largest trial

Staff said their well-being and work-life balance had improved while data showed employees were much less likely to quit their jobs as a result of the policy

By Reuters

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

 

Employees at 61 companies across Britain worked an average of 34 hours across four days between June and December 2022, while earning their existing salary. — Reuters file
Employees at 61 companies across Britain worked an average of 34 hours across four days between June and December 2022, while earning their existing salary. — Reuters file

Published: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 2:19 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 2:24 PM

British companies trialling a four-day working week have mostly decided to stick with it after a six-month pilot in what campaigners for better work-life balance view as a breakthrough.

Employees at 61 companies across Britain worked an average of 34 hours across four days between June and December 2022, while earning their existing salary.


Of those, 56 companies, or 92 per cent, opted to continue like that, 18 of them permanently.

The trial is the largest in the world to date, according to Autonomy, a British-based research organisation which published the report alongside a group of academics and with backing from New Zealand-based group 4 Day Week Global.


Most companies involved, across different sectors and sizes with 2,900 staff overall, said productivity was maintained.

Staff said their well-being and work-life balance had improved while data showed employees were much less likely to quit their jobs as a result of the four-day week policy.

“This is a major breakthrough moment for the movement towards a four-day working week,” Joe Ryle, Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“These incredible results show that the four-day week with no loss of pay really works.”

The founder of a craft brewery involved in the trial said the trial encouraged greater productivity in shorter time. “We want to be more busy, less stressed,” the report quoted the founder as saying.

For some employees surveyed, the extra day off was more important than any pay rise: 15 per cent said no amount of money would induce them back to a five-day week.

Companies from the marketing and advertising, professional services and charity sectors were most represented in the trial. Some 66 per cent of those participating had 25 or fewer employees, while 22 per cent had 50 or more staff.

Which four days employees worked varied. Some staff had Wednesdays off, while others had a three-day weekend policy.

The trial’s evidence that a four-day week helps retain staff could prove powerful in Britain, where there is a labour shortage since departure from the European Union and the Covid pandemic.

“That should give us a competitive advantage,” a senior manager at an insurance firm in the trial said of four-day weeks.


More news from World