Giant test in the UK: 3,000 employees will work 4 days a week without losing money
Steph Deschamps / May 30, 2022
Starting in June, 3,000 employees in 60 British companies will participate in a giant trial. The aim is to demonstrate that it is possible to reduce working hours without affecting pay or productivity.
North London brewery Pressure Drop will participate in a giant test of four-day work weeks starting in June, involving 3,000 employees in 60 companies. The trial, touted as the world's largest ever, is intended to help companies shorten their working hours without lowering wages or slowing business. Similar trials have taken place in Spain, Iceland, the United States and Canada, and are scheduled to begin in August in Australia and New Zealand.
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, program manager at 4 Day Week Global, the association organizing the trials, says the six-month UK test will have the advantage of giving companies more time to experiment and gather data. Adaptation should be easier for SMEs, which can implement big changes more quickly, he says.
The Royal Society of Biology, which is also participating in the trial, says it wants to give employees more autonomy. Like Pressure Drop, it hopes that a shorter work week could attract new employees and, more importantly, help retain the best ones, in a particularly tight labor market in the UK. At 3.7%, the unemployment rate is at its lowest in nearly 50 years and job vacancies have reached a record high of 1.3 million.
According to Jonathan Boys, an economist at the Institute for Personal Development, an association of human resources professionals, the key to the success of the trial will be measuring productivity, especially in a service economy where much of the work is less quantifiable than the output of a factory. Aidan Harper, co-author of a book promoting a four-day workweek (The Case for a Four Day Week), notes that countries that work less tend to have higher productivity. Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands work less than the UK and have high levels of productivity, he explains. Conversely, he adds that Greece is one of the countries in Europe with the longest working hours for low productivity.
For Phil McParlane, founder of recruiting firm 4dayweek.io, a shorter work week is a winning option for companies and employees alike. He even calls it a hiring superpower. His staffing firm, which specializes in flexible work and four-day-week jobs, says the number of companies looking to hire through its platform has quadrupled in the past two years, reflecting the rise of hybrid work and the quest for a better quality of life after two years of pandemic.