Short working week
In the UK, 61 companies have experimented with the four-day working week. Encouraging results
In the UK, 2,900 employees at 61 companies tested the four-day workweek for six months instead of five for the same salary, with somewhat encouraging results. This is the largest experiment in the world conducted on the subject, which confirms some hypotheses already advanced in previous studies: those who reduce working hours reconcile private and professional life better, improve health and produce the same. At the end of the test, which began in June and ended in December 2022, most of the companies said they wanted to keep this model.
Short week, the 100:80:100 model
The study was coordinated by the non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global: the NGO has extended the experiment of Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand company with 240 employees who have successfully adopted the short working week since 2018. The initiative foresees that in each participating country a group of companies participate in a 6-month pilot project based on the 100:80:100 model. In practice, 100% of the salary to employees who will work 80% of the scheduled hours (usually 32) and are committed to achieving the same results that would be achieved by working five days a week.
Before starting the test, the companies were prepared for two months with workshops, mentoring and coaching sessions. Companies of different sectors and sizes were given the possibility of choosing how to reduce the total number of hours. The highest odds opted for Friday off.
The report findings draw on the companies’ administered data, employee survey data, along with a series of interviews conducted during the pilot period, providing metrics at baseline, mid and at the end of the process.
Less stress and better work-life balance
Before and after data show that at the end of the journey, 39% of employees were less stressed and 71% had reduced levels of burnout. Similarly, levels of anxiety, fatigue and sleep problems decreased, while mental and physical health improved. “Those who have a short work week – explain from Boston College – tend to use the third day off for doctor’s appointments or other errands that would otherwise have to be concentrated in one working day”.
For more than half of the employees it was easier to reconcile work with social and family life. A balance that Italy is trying to build also with the new rules on parental leave.
The number of employees who left the participating companies also decreased significantly, recording a 57% drop during the trial period.
Free time is priceless
You have no idea how much money we will be able to save for child care”. This is the comment of a nonprofit employee and this is not an isolated case. According to the Guardian, many British families have found that working full-time saves less money than working part-time.
For many, the positive effects of a four-day workweek were worth more than their weight in money. 15% of employees said that no amount of money would induce them to agree to a five-day schedule beyond the four days a week they were now accustomed to.
Nine out of ten companies keep the week short
A sobering figure concerns the turnover of companies, which remained substantially unchanged, with an average increase of 1.4%. To get a clearer picture of the impact of shorter working hours on productivity, the researchers compared the revenue of the six-month trial with a similar period in previous years, finding an average 35% increase in revenue. %.
The figure, at least in Europe, is confirmed by the latest OECD statistics. Western European countries that work fewer hours per year (Germany, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland) have higher productivity rates.
Also for this reason, it is assumed that of the 61 companies that participated, 56 are continuing with the four working days a week (92%). For 18 of these, the change will be permanent.