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UK companies trial four-day working week

A pilot scheme is beginning in the UK this month, and will see over 3,000 people working a four-day week. The trial will last for six months, and employees will receive the same salary as if they were working five days.

More than 60 companies have signed up for the trial, which is being overseen by non-profit 4 Day Week Global. They claim that ‘the four-day work week has been proven to deliver increased productivity in businesses all over the world in a broad range of industries’.

The four-day working week has already been trialed in other countries with huge success. In Japan, Microsoft implemented a four-day work week in 2019, and saw productivity increase by 40%. In the Netherlands working four days a week is the norm, with employees working on average 29.5 hours a week. Coincidentally, The Netherlands is also one of the happiest countries in the world, ranking 5th in a 2022 report.

Companies that have signed up for the trial include Yo Telecom, Royal Society of Biology and Pressure Drop Brewing

“More and more businesses are moving to productivity-focused strategies to enable them to reduce worker hours without reducing pay,” Joe O’Connor, pilot program manager, from 4 Day Week Global said.

When Iceland trialed a shorter working week they found that the shorter hours did not affect productivity or quality of service. Employees worked more efficiently, stress levels and burnout decreased, and positivity and happiness increased.

Huge benefits

Other benefits to a four-day work week are two topics prevalent in the media. Mental wellness and the environment.

According to research conducted by Henley Business School, a four-day working week resulted in: three quarters of staff (78%) were happier, less stressed (70%) and took fewer days off ill (62%).

They also reported that employees in the U.K. would drive 557.8 million fewer miles per week if they worked one less day.

Alice Martin, Head of Work and Pay at the New Economics Foundation explains the positive impact on carbon emissions:

“Having people in work 20% less of the time translates to a similar drop in carbon emissions, because of changes in behaviour, including reduced commuter travel, eating home-cooked food rather than convenience foods, and spending more time locally, even volunteering.”

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