A new trial will see some UK companies moving employee to a four-day working week in a new attempt to boost productivity in the workplace.
The idea is the brainchild of 4 Day Week Global, with support from researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College, as well as research organisation Autonomy.
Once thought an impossible idea, many employers are now looking at the move to four-day working weeks after a shift in employment and working culture during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is everything you need to know about a four-day working week, which UK companies are taking part in the trial and which countries have introduced the policy so far.
What is a four-day working week?
Essentially, the four-day working week allows employee to reduce the number of days they work, while still working the same amount of hours.
For example, instead of five eight-hour shifts spaced out from Monday to Friday, employees would work 10-hour shifts spaced out over four days.
As a result of contracted hours still being met, the employee does not lose any of their income and keeps the same rate of pay.
4 Day Week Global have campaigned for the move as it helps to increase productivity in employees, while also benefiting workers by providing a better work-life balance.
The concept is known as the 100:80:100 model, as workers will receive 100% of pay for 80% of their time but they must agree to give 100% productivity.
Pilot Programme Manager for 4 Day Week Global, Joe O’Connor, said: “More and more businesses are moving to productivity focused strategies to enable them to reduce worker hours without reducing pay. We are excited by the growing momentum and interest in our pilot program and in the four-day week more broadly.
“The four-day week challenges the current model of work and helps companies move away from simply measuring how long people are ‘at work’, to a sharper focus on the output being produced. 2022 will be the year that heralds in this bold new future of work.”
Which UK companies are taking part in the four-day working week trial?
The trial will last for around six months and companies taking part will be provided with support from experts, researchers and academics.
Those taking part however have not yet been announced by the 4 Day week Campaign.
The companies who are, however, already accredited four-day week organisations are:
- 3D Issue
- Advice Direct Scotland
- Atom Bank
- Big Potato Games
- CMG Technologies
- Causeway Irish Housing Association
- Charlton Morris
- Common Knowledge
- Earth Science Partnership
- Elektra Lighting
- Four Day Week Ltd
- Geeks for Social Change
- Legacy Events
- People and Transformational HR
- Punch Creative
- Resilience Brokers
- Reward Agency
- Stop AIDS
- Sinister Fish Games
- Social Enterprise Direct
- Softer Success
- T-Cup Studios
- Target Publishing
- The Circle
- The UPAC Group
- Venture Stream
- YWCA Scotland
Which countries have implemented a four-day working week?
The concept has already seen success across the world.
Japan is one of the major nations to implement the four-day working week.
Microsoft began using the four-day week as a trial in the summer of 2019, as well a cutting meeting times in half.
Not only did the company see a 23% reduction in electricity costs, but sales per employee also rose 40% compared to 2018.
The trial was just one of the reasons which led to the Japanese Government recommending that companies move to a four-day working week in their 2021 annual economic policy guidelines.
They said that they believed that it would help to improve employee’s work-life balance.
New Zealand is another prominent nation looking to fully implement the practice.
Manufacturer Unilever is currently undertaking trials in the country, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suggesting that companies move to this model in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for a healthier work-life balance.
Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, also joined calls to encourage Finnish companies to switch to the model.
Brendan Burchell, professor in the Social Sciences at Cambridge University, said: “With the social and environmental benefits of the shorter working week becoming clearer, grassroots support more widespread, and technology available to maintain productivity, the time has come for more organisations to take the leap and unravel the practicalities.”
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