Starting in June 2022, the UK has launched a trial 4-day working week where thousands of people are taking part. Since the pandemic, flexible working has been implemented across the majority of businesses, and this shift could move even further forward to executing a 4-day working week.
As the world’s biggest trial of a 4-day working week so far, could this be what the future has in store for us?
What is the 4-Day Work Week Trial?
This campaign is a 6-month trial in the UK of a 4-day work week with no loss in pay for the employees. Led by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University, it is run in tandem with other similar pilot schemes around the world.
From June to November 2022, businesses taking part in the trial will instruct employees to work 4 days a week for the same pay. They will be following a 100:80:100 model which refers to receiving 100% of pay for 80% of the time if they commit to 100% productivity. From there, researchers will track and evaluate productivity levels, employee wellbeing and environmental impact.
Has the 4-Day Work Week Trial Been Done Before?
From 2015 to 2019, a campaign trial was conducted in Iceland where working hours were reduced from 40 hours a week to 35-36 hours a week. It was organised by both the national government and the Reykjavík City Council, involving over 2500 employees which represented 1% of the country’s working population.
Researchers at Autonomy and the Association for Sustainable Democracy deemed this trial as a great success. Resulting from this, 86% of the working population have actually moved to these reduced hours with no loss in pay or have the right to request employers to implement this. Improved employee mental health and productivity were the main takeaways from this.
Is the 5-Day Work Week Outdated?
The 5-day working week has been the norm for as long as anyone can remember. It is seen as optimal for the economy, a routine that cannot be broken and flexible working is enough of an adaptation since the pandemic anyway.
However, the 4-day work week has been designed to benefit everyone and, even though universally humans are not comfortable with change, this change may be for the better for overall quality of life. The 5-day working week may not necessarily be outdated, but the 4-day working week is certainly refreshing and should be considered for all businesses – there’s no harm in trying.
Is the 4-Day Work Week Right for Your Business?
The 4-day work week trial has been designed to ensure every business across every industry can efficiently implement reduced hours at the same pay rate. From restaurants to law firms, nursing to hospitality, there is an opportunity for everyone.
If there are doubts about closing a business for an extra day a week, a 4-day work week does not necessarily mean removing an entire day, it could mean reorganising reduced hours. There are ways to make it work for individual businesses and the 4 Day Week Global Foundation is working to ensure every employer and employee are comfortable with the transition.
With 2 months still left on the trial, only time will tell how successful it is and whether it will become a recommended practice across all businesses.