The UK tests the four-day Workweek

Four days and no pay cuts—as long as productivity remains at 100%

One of the largest experiments to reduce the length of the working week is currently in the trial process. Thousands of workers in the UK have started the four-day work week last Monday with no pay cut.

Spanning 70 companies nationwide, the pilot will last for six months and involve a total of 3,300 workers. The experiment is run by the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, working together with campaign groups, think tanks, and academics. Workers will receive the full amount of their usual pay for working 80% of the week and promising to maintain 100% of their productivity.

Over recent years, the concept of a four-day working week has gained more traction because of higher levels of burnout and turnover rates. Campaigners believe that reducing the standard five-day working week to four not only makes employees happier but also improves social inequality and helps the environment.

Interviews with employees will be conducted by academics from Oxford University, Cambridge University, and Boston College to look at data to assess how successful the results are. Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College and lead researcher on the pilot, has said that they will be analyzing how employees respond to having an extra day off in terms of stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, health, sleep, energy use, travel, and many other aspects of life. They hope the findings will indicate that it's possible to reduce hours without losing productivity. 

A few of the first companies to sign up for the trial were training company MLB Seminars, communications firm Yo Telecom, and video game designer Hutch Games. David Frayne, a research associate at the University Of Cambridge's Digital Futures at Work Research Centre, has said that the concept is only going to work at all levels of the labor market if it can be tailored to individual businesses and sectors. “A one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to work.”

Campaigners also noted that a reduction in working hours can be accomplished by cutting down meetings and adopting the use of technology to improve workloads. The pandemic has taught us that working remotely calls for greater flexibility without a drop in productivity all while cutting time and costs. Government-backed trials are set to take place in Spain and Scotland later this year as well, according to the 4 Day Week Campaign.

“Workers have shown they can work shorter and smarter”, said Joe O'Connor, CEO of 4 Day Week Global. He added, “As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognizing that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, output-focused working is the vehicle to give them a competitive edge.”