Numerous British companies have said they are impressed by the large-scale test carried out between June and December 2022, claiming that there has been no loss of efficiency.
A large-scale trial of the four-day working week in the UK, carried out between June and December 2022, has largely satisfied the companies that tried it out, according to the conclusions published on Tuesday 21 February by organisers. More than 60 companies took part in the experiment, which enabled almost 3,000 employees to work one day less a week while earning the same salary. The test was organised by the 4 Day Week Global association, in conjunction with Cambridge University and Boston College.
The results "show that almost all companies will continue with the 4-day week after the trial", with more than nine out of ten saying they are certain to continue, according to a press release. Only 4% of companies said they were certain to stop. The experiment has been "very, very positive" and the difference can be seen "on a day-to-day basis" among employees, Nathan Jenkinson, client director at Tyler Grange, an environmental consultancy, told AFP, which has now definitively adopted the four-day week. Employees "arrive at work at the start of the week on Monday after having had three days off, much more positive and with much more energy", he continued.
The company's turnover increased very slightly during the trial (+2%), absenteeism fell by 66% and the number of job applications increased by 88%. Generally speaking, the study reveals that companies were not adversely affected by these shorter working weeks. Revenues remained stable on average during the experiment (+1.4% during the trial), even showing an increase of 35% compared with the same period in 2021. Companies also saw fewer resignations or absenteeism, according to the researchers.
Reduced stress and fatigue
The study also found "significant improvements in physical and mental health, time spent exercising and overall satisfaction with life and work", with lower levels of stress, burnout and fatigue, and fewer sleep problems. Most companies opted to give everyone Friday off "and this worked particularly well where teams had to work together at the same time", Brendan Burchell, a sociologist at Cambridge University, told AFP. But depending on needs, in other companies some people took Mondays off or found "creative solutions" such as taking more days off in winter and less in summer, in the case of more seasonal jobs, the researcher added.
Initially, 70 companies signed up to take part in this project, but nine withdrew before the start, organisers say, in most cases because the company did not feel adequately prepared. Experiments with the four-day week have recently multiplied in Europe, but also in the United States and Canada, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.