Employers and workers around the world are finding that the benefits of a four-day workweek go well beyond reduced burnout.
Businesses say they’re seeing improved productivity, morale and team culture, while individuals are reaping benefits for their health, finances and relationships.
Those are the results from a six-month trial in the UK, run by nonprofit 4 Day Week Global and the think tank Autonomy, which included nearly 3,000 workers at 61 companies and ran from June to December 2022 — making it the world’s biggest four- day week experiment to date.
The experiment uses a 100-80-100 model: workers get 100% of the pay for working 80% of the time in exchange for delivering 100% of their usual output.
4 Day Week Global and Autonomy tout the experiment as a resounding success: 92% of companies say they’re continuing with the four-day week permanently (of the five companies not moving forward, two are extending their trials and three are pausing for the moments).
Companies rated their overall experience well, saying business performance and productivity remained high, revenue increased and turnover dropped.
On the employee side, 90% said they definitely wanted to continue with a four-day week, 55% reported an increase in their abilities at work, and 15% said no amount of money would make them go back to a five-day schedule .
Using extra time for healthy habits
Reduced work stress and extra personal time led to several positive health and well-being outcomes: lower stress, better mental health, less negativity, more exercise and an easier time sleeping, according to self-reporting from trial participants.
The results suggest workers, with greater control over their time, spent it in more meaningful ways, like socializing and being with family. A shortened work week could lead to better gender parity of household work: The time men spent caring for their children increased by more than double that of women.
4 Day Week Global notes that findings are consistent across different sample groups: men versus women, small versus big companies, and generally across industries.
Some of the positive results were even greater for women, in particular around reduced burnout, increased life and job satisfaction, improved mental health and reduced commuting. Men, meanwhile, were more likely to use their new found time to contribute more to housework and child care.
‘The 4-day week simply makes you happy’
Tyler Grange, a UK-based environmental consultancy, is one of the employers who’s decided to keep the four-day week as a permanent fixture. The company had been discussing the switch for over four years (and invested in new technology to make it happen) and expedited their plans in order to be part of the 4 Day Week Global trial.
It’s been good for business, the company says: Productivity increased by 22%, job applications are up 88%, absenteeism is down by 66%, their carbon footprint is down with people driving less for work, and employees are less tired and happier.
The move helps workers feel more connected to the company and each other. Tyler Grange operates in a hybrid environment, but the shortened workweek motivates employees to go into the office to make up for lost social time with colleagues. Some use their Fridays off to socialize with coworkers outside of the workplace, or spend time volunteering with partner charities.
Workers save money on gas, transit, lunches and child care with one fewer days on the clock. And the benefits extend far beyond the workplace.
Simon Ursell, managing director at Tyler Grange, tells CNBC Make It via email that the positive social outcomes, particularly for working parents, are some of the most important to him: “Having a parent or carer available on a Friday gives those of our employees with preschool children a major financial boost — and also enriches the lives of the children by being able to enjoy more time with mum or dad.”
“The same goes for those grandparents we work with, who have an extra day to support their children and grandchildren — bringing with it many social and cost-saving benefits too,” he adds.
One of the bigger challenges as a leader is making sure employees don’t view it as working in the same way on a compressed schedule, Ursell says, but rather seeing it as “reduced hours with the objective of being more productive, happier, and more focused.”
Finding new and efficient solutions to work, and giving people more control over their time, are big retention boosters.
“It’s my personal opinion that the four-day week simply makes you happy, so you’re better able to cope with the slings and arrows of a very busy and hectic week,” Ursell says. Plus, with every weekend being a long weekend, “we’re all rare to go when we start work again on Monday morning.”
4 Day Week Global wrapped another six-month trial period across the US and Ireland earlier in 2022, bringing their total number of completed pilot participants to 91 companies and roughly 3,500 employees.
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