The largest four-day working week trial in history has been deemed a success, with the majority of the participating businesses declaring they will continue to offer a shorter week.
The trial, which ran for six months starting in June of last year, featured 61 businesses from various sectors throughout the UK.
Companies had to make sure there was no pay cut for workers who participated in a 32-hour workweek experiment.
At least 56 of the 61 participating companies, including The Royal Society of Biology in London, stated they intended to maintain the four-day workweek.
Productivity, according to CEO Mark Downs, has increased.
“The number of sick days taken throughout the trial period has decreased. Before the experiment, each person would typically take four to five sick days year but this has decreased to less than two,” he said.
Similar experiences have been reported by other pilot-participating companies.
According to research done by the Universities of Cambridge and Boston College, the 2,900 trial participants’ use of sick days decreased by almost two-thirds.
Also, 39% of workers reported feeling less stressed.
Senior accreditation officer Tessa Gibson of the Royal Society of Biology said she would not want to return to a five-day workweek, saying: “It has been nice to have that extra day to see friends and family on the weekends because they can be quite busy, and then to have that extra day off the following week to finish all your chores or just relax. It significantly improved my mental health.”
The COVID pandemic has forced firms to discover more flexible work schedules in order to recruit and keep employees, but not all companies believe a four-day workweek is the answer.
Co-founder of Imagen Insights, which assists brands in getting young people’s opinions, Jay Richards, claimed that a four-day work week frequently makes employees feel as though they must cram more work into fewer hours.
“I agree that a four-day workweek makes sense in theory, but how many businesses will actually be able to support employees’ wellbeing if they reduce their typical five-day workweek to only four,” he said.
He added: “We work a five-day week but from 10am to 4pm, but cutting the days to allow for work-life balance without actually decreasing the workweek, would, in my opinion, put greater stress on the workers.”