UK launches massive 4-day work week experiment

(ORDO NEWS) — For the lucky thousands, the workweek is now only four days long – and they still get 100 percent of their regular income for their work, even though they have a whole day of personal time.

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not necessarily an impossible dream. This idyllic redistribution of working hours could hypothetically one day become the new normal if the four-day workweek campaigns continue to gain momentum.

Currently, as part of a four-day workweek pilot over the next six months, 70 companies and more than 3,300 employees in the UK are accepting a proposal to change the balance between work and personal life.

The initiative, led by non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global along with other organizations, is being conducted with researchers from the University of Cambridge, Oxford University and Boston College who will study how the four-day week affects workers (among other things).

“We’ll analyze workers’ responses to an extra day off in terms of stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, health, sleep, energy consumption, travel, and many other aspects of life,” says Boston College economist and sociologist Juliet Shor, lead researcher. project.

But it’s not just workers in the UK that could benefit from the move to a four-day workday. 4 Day Week Global is also running pilots in Australia and New Zealand, and the organization recently announced upcoming trials in the US and Canada. The application deadline is next month and the pilot project will start in October.

The four-day work week, or alternatively the 35-hour week, has been studied by researchers for several years in a series of international trials, the largest to date being the one in Iceland, which involved about 2,500 people.

During this experiment, it was found that reducing working hours provides employees with numerous benefits and does not lead to a decrease in productivity.

“Many workers reported that after they started working fewer hours, they felt better, more energized and less stressed, resulting in more energy for other activities such as exercise, friends and hobbies,” researchers report.

“It had a positive effect on their work.”

Such results allow employees to work less hours, while earning the same amount of money as they usually earn.

The thought is that simply by spending less time at work (and having more free time), they will have more energy, engagement, and well-being, which will allow them to be more efficient and productive during the time they spend at work.

This concept is not just wishful thinking, but a fundamental commitment that employees who participate in such programs make, called the 100-80-100 model: this means that employees receive 100 percent of their salary, working 80 percent of the time, in exchange for 100 percent performance.

The other beneficiary, theoretically, is the environment: studies show that we can reduce our carbon footprint if we shorten our working hours.

“A four-day week is generally considered a triple dividend policy – helping workers, companies and the climate,” Shor says. “Our research efforts will be focused on studying all of this.”

4 Day Week Global was born after the first successful experiment in introducing a four-day work week at Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand trust firm that loved the benefits so much they decided to make the change permanent.

“We have seen a huge increase in employee engagement and satisfaction with the work they do, a huge increase in employee commitment to stay with the company, and we have not seen any decline in productivity,” CEO Andrew Barnes explained at the time.

“We pay for performance.”

Whether new trials in the UK, Australia and New Zealand (as well as a future pilot project in the US and Canada) will produce such promising results is unclear, but if so, even more support for the four-day campaign can be expected.

Some believe the transition may only be a matter of time, echoing modern society’s adoption of a five-day workweek in the early decades of the 20th century, which meant the elimination of a sixth day.

“Being the first to go, we get a lot of benefits,” Paddy Lambros, head of human resources and talent for British technology company Sensat, which is taking part in the UK trial, told Euronews.

“We are seeing an increase in applications, we are seeing an increase in sentiment, we have been able to hire more diverse people… When we tie all these things together, we see a huge advantage in accepting what we think will inevitably come sooner anyway, than everyone else.”

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