Four-day working week successfully trialled in the UK

21 February 2023, London: A pilot study involving 61 companies across several sectors in the UK has confirmed the benefits of the 32-hour week. The study ran for the last six months of 2022 and is the world’s biggest trial to date.

The research was a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and Boston College and will be presented to MPs today. One result that supports a change in working hours from five days to four was that 39 per cent of employees said they were less stressed with a three-day weekend.

Tessa Gibson, a senior accreditation officer at the Royal Society of Biology, one of the participating organisations, said she would not like to go back to a five-day week— “Weekends can be quite hectic, so it has been quite nice to have that extra day to see your friends and family, and then you get that extra day off during the week to do all your chores or to have that time to relax. It has made a big difference to my mental health,” she said.

Another significant finding was the reduction of the number of sick days, halved on average from four to five a year to less than two.

There are negative outcomes possible in this schedule too, with employers having to garner good productivity from staff in 20 per cent less time on the job each week. Some alternatives are to work from 10 am to 4 pm to give staff the work-life harmony and flexibility that post-pandemic workers are requesting.

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