Back in June 2022, over 60 UK-based companies launched a six-month trial of a four-day work week. While other countries, such as Belgium and Iceland, have given it a go, researchers and workers around the world anxiously awaited the results of the British experiment. As a multi-layered venture and the largest of its kind (as it featured close to 2,900 workers), the UK test would feature workers from several industries, and study the impact through more than mere surveying. Now, it has been announced that the results are overwhelmingly positive.
The key to the the four-day work week is that, despite working 20% less in time, employees wouldn't have their salaries reduced. In turn, the productivity would stay the same. While it would make more sense to implement a measure like this for desk jobs such as those in IT and financial services, more hands-on workplaces also benefited from this, like healthcare and eateries. Companies were allowed flexibility to figure this out—some reduced their hours during some seasons and kept an average of 32 weekly hours per year, while others reduced meetings and optimized handover processes.
Overall, the wellbeing of workers improved. About 71% of participants experienced lower levels of burnout, while 39% felt less stressed. As for their work-life balance, 62% found it easier to balance work with socializing, and 60% were better able to manage their priorities between work and their caring responsibilities. On top of that, the businesses who joined the study reported 65% fewer sick days and a 57% drop in employees leaving the company. Not only was the productivity sustained, but revenue also had a small increase of an average of 1.4% among those who joined the study.
The research was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Cambridge, Boston College, and the think tank Autonomy, led by the non-profit 4 Day Week Global and the UK' 4 Day Week campaign. “The method of this pilot allowed our researchers to go beyond surveys and look in detail at how the companies were making it work on the ground,” says Dr. David Frayne of the University of Cambridge, a member of the qualitative research team behind this study. “We feel really encouraged by the results, which showed the many ways companies were turning the four-day week from a dream into realistic policy, with multiple benefits.”
While the true challenge seems to be keeping the four-day week for good, those who experienced it firsthand are willing to adopt it. 92% of the participating companies are willing to continue the program, while 18% have made the switch already. “When we ask employers, a lot of them are convinced the four-day week is going to happen,” says Brendan Burchell, from the University of Cambridge.“It has been uplifting for me personally, just talking to so many upbeat people over the last six months. A four-day week means a better working life and family life for so many people.”
The complete results of this study are available on 4 Day Week Global's website.
After a six-month trial, the results of a four-day work week in the UK are overwhelmingly positive, as 71% of participants experienced lower levels of burnout, while 39% felt less stressed.
h/t: [IFL Science]
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