For around 3,000 employees in the UK, the 4-day week will soon become reality – at least for six months. Sixty British companies and organizations have signed up for the largest trial of a 4-day week to date. The start date is June 2022.

The trial is being organized by 4-Day-Week-Global, together with the think tank Autonomy. Researchers from Cambridge, Oxford, and Boston College universities will monitor and evaluate the field trial.

Participating employers include the Royal Society of Biology, brewing company Pressure Drop and a fish ‘n chips store.

“The four-day week challenges the current working model and helps companies move away from simply measuring hours worked and focus more on performance delivered,” said Joe O’Connor, 4-Day Week Global’s pilot project manager.

4-day week in Great Britain: 4 days of work – with the same pay

Researchers will work with each organization to study the impact of shorter work hours on employee productivity and well-being, as well as the impact on environmental and gender issues. Participants will work one day less per week – but receive the same pay.

4-day week: A Person in a Suit is walking through a busy street in London.For 3,000 employees in the UK, from June onwards it will be 4 days on, 3 days off – with full pay. (Arthur Edelmans/Unsplash)

According to the organizations conducting the field trial, workers are expected to follow the “100:80:100 model”. They receive 100 percent of the pay for 80 percent of the time. In return, they are expected to try to maintain 100 percent productivity.

4-day week: Largest study to date in Iceland was an overwhelming success

The largest study of its kind to date took place in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. More than 2,500 employees took part in the study. It was hailed as a success: Employees reported that they were less stressed. Their risk of burnout decreased, and there was no negative impact on productivity or quality of service. The 2015 and 2016 trials led to significant changes in the country.

Last year, 86 percent of employees in Iceland either worked shorter weeks or had contracts that allowed them to reduce their hours.

At the time, Will Stronge, research director at Autonomy, said, “This study shows that the world’s largest trial of shorter work weeks in the public sector was an overwhelming success by any measure.”

Corona has changed priorities among working people

The pandemic has changed the way we work: More home offices, digitized work processes, less commute time. Employees have had to take control of their own time management. Most have realized they can work differently, but equally efficiently.

“Sometimes it takes a major disruptor to break deeply ingrained social and cultural norms. We’re seeing that right now with the five-day work week. Now comes the flexible working revolution sparked by Corona. Those who think we’re going to turn back the clock to two years ago are just thinking of an illusion – the four-day week is an idea whose time has now come,” Joe O’Connor is certain.

The trial in the UK is now being run in parallel with similar pilot projects in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.