More than 70 British companies are testing out a four-day workweek. And, halfway through the six-month trial, most respondents are saying there’s been no loss in productivity – with some actually reporting significant improvement.
The trial, lead by nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, kicked off at the beginning of June. In the pilot program, more than 3,300 employees in the United Kingdom get one paid day off each week.
Forty-one participating companies have reported mid-trial results – with 88% saying that the four-day workweek is working “well” for their business, according to a Wednesday press release.
In addition, 46% of respondents said their business has “maintained around the same level” of productivity. Some saw further benefits with a shortened week – with 34% reporting that productivity has “improved slightly” and 15% saying it has “improved significantly.”
Trial’s start in June:The world’s largest four-day workweek pilot program just started in the UK
What’s everyone talking about? Sign up for our trending newsletter to get the latest news of the day
“The organisations in the United Kingdom pilot are contributing real-time data and knowledge that are worth their weight in gold,” 4 Day Week Global CEO Joe O’Connor said in a statement. “Essentially, they are laying the foundation for the future of work by putting a four-day week into practice, across every size of business and nearly every sector, and telling us exactly what they are finding as they go.”
While most reported positive outcomes, O’Connor also recognized that the shift can be an adjustment – with “some understandable hurdles – especially among those which have comparatively fixed or inflexible practices, systems, or cultures which date back well into the last century.”
But, as some participating companies noted, experimenting with the change has been worth it.
“We’re proud to be involved in the trial and it’s going well for us. It wasn’t a walk in the park at the start, but no major change ever is,” said Nicci Russell, managing director of Waterwise, a U.K. water conservation organization participating in the trial. “We certainly all love the extra day out of the office and do come back refreshed. It’s been great for our wellbeing and we’re definitely more productive already.”
Marketing agency Trio Media, which is also participating in the six-month pilot, reported similar success. Trio Media CEO Claire Daniels noted that, “Productivity has remained high, with an increase in wellness for the team, along with our business performing 44% better financially.”
As of the halfway point on the trial, 86% of respondents said they would be “extremely likely” or “likely” to consider keeping the four-day workweek policy after the pilot program ends.
4 Day Week Global is running the U.K. trial in partnership with the think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.
April:California pushes for 32-hour workweek at larger companies as part of pandemic-driven shift
Iceland:Employees in Iceland starting working 4 days a week. It didn’t hurt productivity, researchers say.
Beyond Britain, other parts of the world have also started experimenting with a four-day workweek – including some pilot programs in New Zealand, Iceland, Canada and the United States. Others have pushed for policy change through legislation.
In April, for example, California introduced a bill that would make the official workweek 32 hours, and no longer 40 hours, for companies with 500 employees or more. The bill was later put on hold, and future legislation is uncertain.
Contributing: Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY.