What if the weekend lasted three days? What if you worked four days a week and kept the same salary? Possibly you’ve never asked yourself these questions, but now that we’ve posed them to you, would you like to know the answer? In this article you will learn about the experiment that has been carried out in the UK, where several companies have implemented the 4-day working week as a test, with results that you would not expect.
What History Tells Us
In the industrial revolution, workers were working six days a week for an excessive number of hours per day. Since then, a shorter working day was advocated, which later became the 40-hour week we all know today. A few years ago, the United States began experimenting with a four-day working week. Subsequently, different countries such as the UK have also implemented this new work dynamic in an experiment that is changing the future of work.
In an experiment carried out by the foundation “4 Day Week”, 61 companies in the UK participated in a trial of a four-day working week. The provisional results after six months are promising to say the least: 56 companies have decided to extend this working scheme and 18 of them have decided to make it permanent.
Through this model, companies have been able to reduce the number of hours worked, increase the well-being of their employees and, most importantly, maintain and even increase worker productivity.
56 companies have decided to extend this work scheme, and 18 of them have decided to make it permanent
The experiment was based on the model known as 100-80-100, which aims to 100% of wages,, reduce working hours to 80% and maintain at least 100% productivity. The test involved scholars from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Boston.
A range of companies and businesses were chosen, from a traditional restaurant to a robotics company. In total, around 2,900 workers were involved in the experiment.
The test revealed that, as we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognising that the new way to be competitive is to offer a better quality of life to their employees. And reducing the number of hours worked to concentrate on the work produced is the ideal way to gain a competitive advantage.
The Foundation has started a campaign in the UK to convince the UK Government and Parliament of the need to promote legislation that would give workers the right to request the four-day week in every company.
The Arguments in Favour
In the first place, a study by the International Labour Organisation found that workers who work shorter hours have higher productivity at work. This is partly because employees feel more motivated and less stressed when they have more time to rest and engage in personal activities. By working only four days a week, workers may have more time to spend with their families, exercise and relax, which in turn may improve their performance at work.
Reducing the number of hours worked in order to concentrate on the work produced is the ideal way to gain a competitive advantage.
Secondly, a report by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions shows that employees who work fewer hours tend to have higher job satisfaction, resulting in better mental health. This translates into less sick leave and higher talent retention.
In addition, the four working days a week model could also have environmental and social benefits. Less time at work means less time on the road, which could reduce traffic and pollution.
Finally, adding to the benefits for workers and companies, the four-day working week could also have a positive impact on a country’s economy. With more time off, workers have more opportunities to spend their money on leisure and entertainment activities, which in turn could boost the local economy.
Firstly, although this pilot in the UK has proven otherwise, there is a risk that in certain cases there will be a a decrease in workers’ productivityas, if they have less time to complete their tasks, they may not be able to maintain the same level of performance as in a 5-day week.
For hourly workers, the reduction in working days would mean a reduction in earnings, unless they are paid the same for fewer days of work. This can significantly affect workers who depend on their wages to meet their financial needs.
There is a risk that in certain cases there could be a decrease in worker productivity
Another potential difficulty of reducing the working week is the adaptation of companies to this new system. In some cases, it might be necessary to reorganise the whole business system, which could take time and cost money.
In conclusion, there are many reasons to consider the introduction of the four working day model, but also not to do so.
What do you think?