The world’s largest trial of its kind is taking place as thousands of UK employees have started working a four-day week.
Starting on 6 June 2022, more than 70 UK businesses have agreed to take part in one of the largest studies into the four-day week, with thousands of UK employees seeing their hours reduced by 20% without a pay cut. Employers are expecting employees to maintain productivity in return.
The study will involve more than 3,300 employees across the UK from a wide variety of sectors, from local fast food stores in Norfolk to the financial firm Charity Bank in Kent.
The UK trial will run alongside similar pilot schemes in Ireland, Canada, Australia, the US and New Zealand. A coalition of organisations including 4 Day Week Global, UK think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University coordinating the trials.
The researchers behind the pilot will work with each of the organisations that will be involved to accurately assess the impact the four day week will be on productivity within the business, how the new working style will affect the wellbeing of its workers, the impact on the environment and any impact on gender equality in the workplace.
There is also an emphasis on the response of employees to having an extra day off in terms of the employees’ job and life satisfaction, levels of stress and burnout, sleep, health, energy consumption and how they travel to and from the workplace.
Founder of Flexa Careers, Molly Johnson Jones, believes that the research will support claims that flexibility is the working pattern of the future. “In the same way that presenteeism doesn’t equate to productivity, despite what some politicians and business leaders would have us believe, nor does working very specific, fixed hours have a positive bearing on output,” she said.
On the other hand, some experts are more reserved. Marcus Beaver, UK and Ireland country leader at Alight Solutions, has said the pilot scheme will be key in determining the success of the four day week in the UK. Beaver also believes some sectors may be better equipped to introduce this policy than others.
“Time will tell how successful this experiment is, but it will surely be a pivotal moment for the future of the world of work,” said Beavers. “The outcome could settle once and for all if four-day-work weeks are a positive or just wishful thinking.”
Some businesses have already trialled their own version of reduced working hours, and the results have shown that it may not work for all organisations. The Wellcome Trust abandoned its plans to roll out a four day week because a consultation showed the reduction in hours would have been harder for some employees, especially those working in IT, finance and HR.
If like many others, your business is exploring options for a change in working patterns for the future, it is essential you remain aware of and implement the correct policies and procedures to keep your business protected.
Our team of experienced and dedicated HR and Health and Safety consultants can offer you expert support and guidance to ensure your business can have a smooth transition to the future way of working you decide.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help you decide and implement a change in working pattern in your business, or you would like to discuss the ongoing four day work week trials, feel free to get in contact with our team today.
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