Four-day work week: which UK companies are taking part in trial and countries already using 4 day working week

Seventy firms are taking part in the scheme with many saying they will keep it in place after the pilot ends
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Many UK firms taking part in a four-day working week trial have said they will keep it in place after the pilot ends because it has worked well for their businesses.

More than 70 firms are taking part in the scheme where employees get 100% pay for 80% of their normal hours worked.

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.

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.

There are around 70 companies and organisations in the pilot but only 28 have publicly announced they are taking part.

They include:

  • Royal Society of Biology - professional body
  • Hutch - mobile game developers
  • Yo Telecom - telecoms services
  • Adzooma - online marketing services
  • Pressure Drop Brewing - brewery
  • Happy - workplace consultancy services
  • Platten’s Fish and Chips - chip shop in Norfolk
  • Eurowagens - car parts retailer
  • Bookishly - online book and gifts shop
  • Outcomes First Group - education and foster care services
  • NeatClean - eco cleaning products firm
  • 5 Squirrels - skincare branding consultancy
  • Salamandra - animation studios
  • Girling Jones - recruitment firm
  • AKA Case Management - case management firm
  • IE Brand & Digital - marketing company
  • Helping Hands - at-home care services
  • Trio Media - marketing agency
  • Literal Humans - marketing agency
  • Physiquipe - rehabilitation tech company
  • Tyler Grange - landscape planning consultancy
  • Timberlake Consultants -software firm
  • Everledge - tech firm
  • Scotland’s International Development Alliance - industry body for Scottish charities
  • Amplitude - tech firm
  • Stemette Futures - education organisation
  • Comcen - computer supplies retailer
  • We Are Purposeful - activism organisation

Which companies were already on a four day week?

The group 4 Day Week Campaign has now said that there are 100 companies who have signed up to the scheme, including marketing company Awin and Atom Bank. Here’s a list of the UK firms offering a four day week on full pay:

  • 3D Issue - printing software firm in Donegal
  • Advice Direct Scotland - non-profit in Glasgow
  • Atom Bank - finance firm in Durham
  • Autonomy - think tank researching the future of work
  • Awin - consultancy firm
  • Big Potato Games - board games maker in East London
  • Blink - Norwich e-commerce firm
  • Canon - Edinburgh-based UK arm of the global camera giant
  • CMG Technologies - Suffolk 3D metal moulding firm
  • Causeway Irish Housing Association - London non-profit
  • Charlton Norris - recruitment firm in Leeds
  • Crystallised - Newcastle marketing agency
  • Earth Science Partnership - research group in Cardiff
  • Elektra Lighting - London lighting consultants
  • Evolved - online marketing specialists in the North East
  • Flocc - Cambridge and London-based marketing agency
  • Geeks For Social Change - Manchester software developers
  • Gracefruit - Glasgow cosmetics firm
  • The Landmark Hotel London - upmarket hotel in Marylebone
  • Legacy Events - management agency in Oxford
  • MRL - Brighton recruiters specialising in tech and finance
  • People and Transformational HR - Nortants design and marketing consultancy
  • Punch Creative - boutique digital marketing agency in Leeds
  • Reboot - Hertfordshire ad agency
  • Resiliance Brokers - climate finance firm based in London
  • Reward Agency - Manchester ad agency
  • Stop Aids - London HIV charity
  • Sinister Fish Games - Lincoln-based board game makers
  • Social Enterprise Direct - Glasgow finance firm
  • Softer Success - consultancy and training provider in London
  • StreamGo - Sunderland-based indie events platform
  • T-Cup Studios - Bath boutique consultancy
  • Target Publishing - Essex indie publishers
  • Technovent - high-tech medical services supplier in South Wales
  • The Circle - hub for charities and non-profits in Dundee
  • The UPAC group - Glasgow packing firm
  • Venture Stream - Newcastle marketing agency
  • YWCA Scotland - young women’s movement based in Glasgow

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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