Thousands of employees at 100 companies in the United Kingdom will permanently switch to a four-day week while receiving the same amount of pay, as the workplace revolution picks up steam around the world.
The UK companies which have adopted the “transformative” initiative include Atom Bank and Awin, which each have about 450 staff in the UK, and a number of technology and marketing companies.
The initiative sees employees work 80 percent of normal hours for 100 percent of their pay while maintaining 100 percent of their normal productivity, with an aim to provide a better work-life balance and encourage better health.
The switch is being led by non-profit 4 Day Week Global, which accredits companies taking part in the campaign.
To be accredited, a company must prove that they are not simply requiring workers to work longer hours to make up for the day off during the week.
Awin chief executive Adam Ross said implementing a four-day work week for all of the global marketing firm’s employees has been hugely beneficial, as The Guardian reported.
“[It’s been] one of the most transformative initiatives we’ve seen in the history of the company,” Ross said.
“Over the course of the last year-and-a-half, we have not only seen a tremendous increase in employee wellness and wellbeing, but concurrently, our customer service and relations, as well as talent relations and retention also have benefitted.”
There is also a widespread trial of the four-day work week taking place in the UK, with about 70 companies employing 3,300 workers taking part, in partnership with researchers at the University of Cambridge and Oxford.
Part-way through this pilot, nearly 90 percent of the participating companies said it was working well, and 95 percent said that productivity stayed the same or improved in this time.
The campaign wants to see the four-day work week being the norm within a decade.
“We want to see a four-day week with no loss of pay become the normal way of working in this country by the end of the decade, so we are aiming to sign up many more companies over the next few years,” UK campaign director Joe Ryle said.
“With many businesses struggling to afford 10 percent inflation pay rises, we’re starting to see increasing evidence that a four-day week with no loss of pay is being offered as an alternative solution.”
Australia joins revolution
The four-day work week is also gaining momentum in Australia.
At the start of August, more than a dozen local companies began a six-month trial of the concept.
A number of local companies have been utilising a four-day week for several years, including tech recruiting firm Lookahead and Sydney-based fintech InDebted.
In November, Unilever began Australia’s largest trial of the initiative, with 500 employees taking part over 18 months.
The Victorian government is also considering such a trial within its public service, with its draft platform for the recent election including “considering the social and gender equity benefits of a reduced working week with no loss of income”.
A number of Victorian crossbenchers, including the Reason Party and the Greens have also campaigned for such a trial.
Across the ditch in New Zealand, Unilever conducted another trial of the concept with overwhelmingly positive results.
Running from December 2020 to June 2022, the company found that 33 percent of employees saw a reduction in their stress, a 67 percent drop in work-life conflict and a decrease in absenteeism of 34 percent.
Iceland has previously run the biggest global trial of the four-day work week, taking place from 2015 to 2019.
Over this time, 2,500 public sector workers took part, and found there was no drop in productivity despite the fewer hours, and a sharp increase in wellbeing.
Researchers looking at the trial found that workers reported feeling less stressed and less at risk of burnout, and had a corresponding increase to their health and work-life balance.