4 Day Week UK: Does It Work?
In June 2022, a trial period for 4 Day Week began in the UK. The trial period lasted six months and involved thousands of employees from companies of various sizes and sectors. The trial period results are in: the four-day work week policy can be desirable and achievable for both businesses and employees.
4 Day Week UK: Reality and Results
Initially, the 4 Day Week pilot in the UK set to use the 100:80:100 model – 100% pay for 80% time with 100% productivity. In practice, companies set up different policies to suit their needs while maintaining 100% pay and a ‘meaningful’ reduction in work time. Some use the ‘Friday off’ policy, and others use ‘staggered’, ‘decentralized’, ‘annualized’, and ‘conditional’ structures.
The results report is a collaboration of independent research organization Autonomy, Prof. Juliet Schor of Boston College, Dr. David Frayne & Prof. Brendan Burchell of the University of Cambridge, 4 Day Week Global, and 4 Day Week Campaign UK. It comprises findings from 61 companies and around 2,900 employees from June to December 2022.
The results are based on companies’ administrative data, employee surveys, and interviews at the beginning, middle, and end of the trial. Almost 1,800 employees completed surveys at all three points.
Here are some key findings of how the four-day work week trial period in the UK affected workers:
- About 39% of employees felt less stressed, and 71% reported lower levels of burnout. On the other hand, nearly 13% were more stressed, and 22% experienced higher levels of burnout.
- More employees reported an increase in physical (37%) and mental (43%) well-being than a decrease (18% for physical and 16% for mental)
- Regarding work-life balance, 60% of employees felt that balancing care responsibilities had become easier, and 62% found balancing work and social life easier.
- Overall, 55% of employees felt that they were doing better work.
- In the end, a significant 96% of employees said they preferred four-day work weeks, with 15% refusing to go back to a five-day week schedule for any amount of salary increase.
Meanwhile, the results are also favorable from the company’s perspective, as 56 of the 61 companies that participated have decided to continue with the four-day work week. For 18 companies, this change is permanent. Notably, the dreaded ‘profit loss’ did not come true. In fact, companies’ revenue went up by 1.4% on average, weighted by company size.
Decent Work for All
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink work. From massive layoffs to the “The Great Resignation”, this flawed system must transform to guarantee decent work and employment for all. The four-day working week policy might be one viable option among many. There is no “one-size fits all” solution, so we must keep finding new ways to achieve a better labor, work, and employment system.
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Naz is the Manager for Editorial Asia at Green Network. She performs the role of Editor for Green Network Asia and Reviewer for Green Network ID.