4-day working week – is this the future ?

Could the UK embrace a 4-day working week?

In June this year, 70 UK companies and over 3,000 workers began working a four-day week, with no reduction in pay. This is the biggest four-day working week pilot ever undertaken. The participating firms are trialling a four-day working week for a period of 6 months. The pilot is based on what is called the 100:80:100 model – 100% pay, for 80% of the time, in exchange for employees committing to maintain 100% productivity.

Firms from various industries are taking part in the pilot, including banking, media, hospitality and business services.

The organisers of the pilot are working alongside researchers from leading universities in order to measure the impact on productivity and the wellbeing of staff. The research team will also analyse how the pilot impacts the environment and factors such as gender equality, D&I, etc. The basis of the four-day working week pilot is that there is a lot of activity, particularly in office environments, that is not productive.

As such, most firms should be able to “trim the fat” without harming productivity. The key is to equip staff members with the training and tools to work in a more focused and effective manner.

Our working patterns and the focus that we all give to our work-life balance has shifted quite considerably since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sticking to a rigid, outdated, time-based system doesn’t make sense in most modern businesses. Particularly so, given that people have technology and tools that enable them to multi-task more effectively than ever before.

Businesses are now adopting a more flexible approach to work with a focus on productivity rather than “presenteeism”. If the employees in the companies involved in this huge pilot become healthier, happier and more productive, then perhaps the UK could be on the cusp of a significant change in the way most people work.

The concept may not suit everyone and every type of business, but it could help firms to attract new recruits in the current hyper-competitive market for talent. There are benefits for businesses too – after all, more productive team members are more profitable. In addition, costs could be cut if the office only has to open 4 days per week.