BLOG: UK four-day week trial begins

70 companies have joined the world’s largest trial of a four-day week with five-day pay.

The pandemic forced a change in the world of work, and as we emerge from it to something that looks more like the ‘old normal’, many companies have kept flexible and hybrid home/office working policies in place.

People are just as productive (or more so?) when working at home? They don’t sit around watching boxsets all day? Who’d have thunk it.

always possible gave up office space and moved to an entirely remote working model in September 2019, a fortuitous move given the unfolding of events just 6 months later. Staff that have joined us from a more traditional work model report increased productivity and wellbeing resulting from the lack of commute and regular office distractions. We counter potential feelings of isolation by having a whole-team online wellbeing check-in weekly and meet-up in person quarterly.

So work/life balance is important. But difficult to achieve when working eight hours a day, five days a week. Then add in a couple of hours of commute time per day.

Working four days per week and having three to yourself seems like the sweet spot, but with the high cost of living most can’t afford to work that way.

What would happen if people worked four days but were paid as if they’d done five? That’s what this trial aims to unpick.

A trial has already taken place in Iceland, and was seen as a resounding success. Workers reported feeling less stressed and at risk of burnout, and said their health and work-life balance had improved. They also reported having more time to spend with their families, do hobbies and complete household chores.

The UK pilot is running for six months and is being organised by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with the thinktank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week Campaign, and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.

Juliet Schor, a professor of sociology at Boston College and lead researcher on the pilot, described it as a “historic trial”.

“The four-day week is generally considered to be a triple-dividend policy – helping employees, companies, and the climate. Our research efforts will be digging into all of this.” 

We’ll be following this trial with keen interest. See below for opinions about the four-day week from experts that we’ve interviewed in Possibility Club podcasts over the years.

5 Big Questions: Dr Charlotte Rae

Neuroscientist and biological psychologist, DR CHARLOTTE RAE, considers the biological implications and benefits of the four-day week.

Read about her research and call for Brighton & Hove businesses to take part in a local study here.

>>> LISTEN

5 Big Questions: Kate Bell

“We can shape the future of work.”

Trade unionist, policy expert and employment rights advocate, KATE BELL on collective action, the future of work and why change is good.

 

>>> LISTEN

PODCAST: An archive podcast special from March 2019 which rounded up several conversations on the topic of The Future of Work.

BLOG: Click to read more about the workplace culture always possible is cultivating in a post by Head of Project Delivery, Sarah Freeman.

Do any of these questions resonate with you?

The 5 Big Questions:

Measuring change How do you measure the impact of what you do?

Ready for anything - future proofingHow should people/businesses be preparing for the future?

Skills, talent & opportunityHow do we build the workforce we need for that future?

Embedded innovationHow do you use creativity to solve problems?

Bold connections, collaborationHow do you collaborate?

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