UK four-day week trial hailed as a ‘major breakthrough’ as 92% of companies keep the shorter week

Workers reported lower levels of stress and burnout
Workers reported lower levels of stress and burnout Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Luke Hurst
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The results of the biggest ever four-day week trial show the majority of companies saw their business performance and productivity maintained high.


The results are in from another large-scale four-day week study - and once again, productivity appeared to remain stable while employee satisfaction increased dramatically.

That’s according to the biggest ever four-day week pilot, which involved 61 companies in the UK - 56 of which have decided to continue with the changes.

The participating companies and organisations taking part in the six-month trial ranged from small local businesses such as a fish and chip shop, to large corporates with around 2,900 employees.

These employees saw their working week reduced from five days to four, with no associated loss of pay.

The trial was run by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with the think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week Campaign, and researchers at University of Cambridge and Boston College.

And the results showed that the majority of companies saw their business performance and productivity maintained, with an average rise of 1.4 per cent in revenue across the organisations.

Around 92 per cent of them continued with the four-day week after the pilot ended, with eighteen of those declaring the policy a permanent change.

Stress and burnout for employees were both reported to have significantly declined with 71 per cent of workers reporting lower levels of burnout

Reported levels of anxiety, fatigue and sleep issues decreased, while mental and physical health both experienced improvements.

‘Simply brilliant’

One of the firms making the change permanent is the environmental consultancy Tyler Grange, which tracked the effects of the trial on its staff using an app.

According to the company, employee happiness was up 14 per cent, and workers were also 28 per cent less tired.

Hailing the positive effects on Tyler Grange’s staff, its managing director Simon Ursell said employers should not be afraid of the four-day working week but instead, “they should embrace it”.

“We’ve already been approached by a number of businesses to share our advice and learnings - helping them to determine how they too can make the switch to a three-day weekend,” he said.

“We’re able to demonstrate, first-hand, how challenges of the four-day working week can be overcome and the many holistic benefits that can be enjoyed as a result”.

For Ursell, the fact that there are signs of the four-day week becoming mainstream in the UK is “simply brilliant” - although he added the transition “provoked negative responses amongst some,” due to the often uncomfortable nature of change.

The results in the UK pilot come just over a month after another trial run by the same organisations - involving 33 companies and almost 1,000 employees across countries including the US, Ireland and Australia - reported similar findings.

In that study, none of the participating companies planned on returning to a five-day week, despite an unsurprising 96.9 per cent of employees saying they wanted to continue with the shorter working week.

Workers also reported significant improvements in the indicators of stress, burnout, and fatigue, while work-family conflict decreased, and physical and mental health showed a positive shift.


‘Major breakthrough moment’

Joe Ryle, Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, called the UK trial a “major breakthrough moment”.

“Across a wide variety of different sectors of the economy, these incredible results show that the four-day week with no loss of pay really works. Surely the time has now come to begin rolling it out across the country,” he said.

The results will be presented to MPs at an event in the UK’s Parliament on Tuesday.

Last month, South Cambridgeshire District Council became the first local authority in the UK to trial a four-day week with early results showing reduced stress levels for staff and no negative impact on service delivery.

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