Four-day week made permanent for most UK firms in world’s biggest trial

Most of the UK companies that took part in the world’s biggest ever four-day working week trial have made the policy permanent, research shows.

Of the 61 organisations that took part in a six-month UK pilot in 2022, 54 (89%) are still operating the policy a year later, and 31 (51%) have made the change permanent. More than half (55%) of project managers and CEOs said a four-day week – in which staff worked 100% of their output in 80% of their time – had a positive impact on their organisation, the report found. For 82% this included positive effects on staff wellbeing, 50% found it reduced staff turnover, while 32% said it improved job recruitment. Nearly half (46%) said working and productivity improved.

The report’s author, Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College, said the results showed “real and long-lasting” effects. “Physical and mental health, and work-life balance, are significantly better than at six months. Burnout and life satisfaction improvements held steady,” she said. But Matthew Percival, a director at the Confederation of British Industry, said the four-day week was not a “one size fits all answer” and would be “unlikely to pay for itself in many industries”.
Almost all (96%) of staff said their personal life had benefited, and 86% felt they performed better at work, while 38% felt their organisation had become more efficient, and 24% said it had helped with caring responsibilities.

Organisations reduced working hours by an average of 6.6 hours to reach a 31.6-hour week. Most gave their staff one full day off a week, either universal or staggered. The report found that protected days off were more effective than those on which staff were “on call” or sometimes expected to work. The most successful companies made their four-day week “clear, confident and well-communicated”, and co-designed their policies between staff and management, thinking carefully about how to adapt work processes, the authors wrote.


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