A trial of a four-day working week has launched in the UK to determine whether employees are more productive with longer weekends.
There has been much debate for years over the benefits of a shorter working week and it appears more businesses are now willing to give it a go, as the Covid-19 pandemic shifts the global work model.
Around 30 UK companies are taking part in a six-month trial of a four-day week, where employees will be paid the same amount as if they were working their usual five days.
The pilot scheme – run by the 4 Day Week campaign, think tank Autonomy and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College – will measure whether employees can operate at 100% productivity for 80% of the time.
Similar trials run by 4 Day Week Global are also taking place this year in Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, while the Scottish and Spanish governments also launch pilots this month.
Joe O’Connor, pilot programme manager for 4 Day Week Global, believes 2022 “will be the year that heralds in this bold new future of work”.
He added: “More and more businesses are moving to productivity focused strategies to enable them to reduce worker hours without reducing pay.
“We are excited by the growing momentum and interest in our pilot programme and in the four-day week more broadly.
“The four-day week challenges the current model of work and helps companies move away from simply measuring how long people are ‘at work’, to a sharper focus on the output being produced.”
As part of the pilot, researchers will work with each participating organisation to measure productivity, the wellbeing of its workers, as well as the impact on the environment and gender equality.
Numerous studies have suggested that moving to a four-day week boosts productivity and workers’ wellbeing.
The world’s largest ever trial in Icelandbetween 2015 and 2019 was recently hailed as an “overwhelming success”, while in Japan, a trial at Microsoft saw productivity went up by 40%, according to researchers.