Four-day work weeks boost productivity, increase profits, and enhance morale, according to several U.K.-based companies testing this new schedule.
The think tank Autonomy is behind this pilot project in which 70 companies will take part in a four-day work week over the next six months. The 3,000 U.K. employees involved in the study will get full pay. Their goal is to be more productive even though they'll spend fewer hours in the office. The study will be recorded and analyzed by academics from Oxford University, Boston College, and Cambridge University. Smaller trials are occurring in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.
Juliet Schor, Lead Researcher on the global arm of the project, says that the U.K. trials are historic because of their enormity. White-collar workplace productivity is at an all-time low, and work is being expanded to fill available hours rather than the other way around. If employees can complete their tasks in a timely manner, it shouldn't matter how many hours they're sitting in an office. In the future, this study posits, work can be centered around productivity rather than time.
"Sticking to a rigid, centuries-old, time-based system doesn't make sense," Schor told BBC. "Companies adopting this around the world have shown that."
Participants in the experiment who have tried this schedule laud its benefits. Simon Girling, the Chief Executive Officer of construction recruitment firm Girling Jones, says that the company's inputs are up. Calls, meetings, and interviews have taken on a new life, and everyone is accomplishing more in less time. Employees' mental health and well-being have improved adds Sam Smith, Co-Founder of Pressure Drop Brewery. He notes that, because of the pandemic and the changes it had already wrought on the workplace, it felt like the right time to rethink employees' work/life balance and reinvent their workplace culture.