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UK Workers Begin Four-Day Workweek

Is it time for the ever-coveted four-day workweek to become a reality in the UK?

The pandemic changed the work and business background forever, demonstrating how flexible work is possible and benefits the company. As a result, the UK has begun the world’s most extensive trial of the four-day workweek pattern, with a pilot running for six months and organized by a partnership between 4 Day Week Global, the 4 Day Week Campaign, thinktank Autonomy and scientists from Cambridge University, Oxford University, and Boston College.

4 Day Week Global is a non-profit created by Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart, aiming to provide ideas to people interested in promoting the 4-day workweek as a new pattern for work. One of their white papers, which can be downloaded for free here, states that 63% of businesses found it easier to attract and retain talent with a four-day workweek.

On top of that, 78% of employees with 4-day workweeks have higher happiness levels and lower stress levels. The four-day workweek would reduce the workweek from an average of 40 hours to 32 hours for the same pay and benefits.

As described by 4-Day Week Global, the trial uses a 100:80:100 ratio model. Employees receive 100% of their salary for 80% of the time in exchange for being 100% committed to increasing the company’s productivity. There are over 70 companies involved in the trial, with many of them providing education, skincare, consultancy, housing, food and beverages.

Could a four-day workweek improve work-life balance?

Work-life balance graphic © Vecteezy

The purpose of the trial is to measure the impact of the four-day workweek on productivity and how it correlates with the well-being of employees, as well as the impact on gender equality. Specifically, researchers will be analyzing how an extra day off correlates with job and life satisfaction, sleep, energy use, health and travel.

The participating companies state how a five-day workweek is an outdated concept. Humans used to work for six days centuries ago, which was reduced to five days. It seems like humanity is long overdue for another reduction. 

However, detractors of the idea criticize the complications that it could cause for some companies, such as scheduling changes. Not all companies can easily shift to a 4-day workweek. Managers might spend more time scheduling work for others when employees are not on the clock, which might lead to overtime.

After this trial, could the workforce go through one of its most significant changes in centuries? We’ll likely find out the answer to all those questions in six months.

It might be that 2023 begins with a majorly positive change in employee satisfaction should a four-day workweek be implemented in full.

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