Companies on four-day working week pilot named

Belmont Packaging made a full transition to a four-day week six months ago
Belmont Packaging made a full transition to a four-day week six months ago

The four-day working week pilot programme has been inundated with expressions of interest and the names of some of the companies that will participate in the six-month trial have now been revealed.

The launch of the six-month pilot of the reduced hour work model was announced in January by 4 Day Week Global, which is working in partnership with think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University.

Organisers of the pilot said 30 organisations have already signed up to the trial and dozens more have shown interest in joining. The pilot kicks off in June and will see just under 2,000 employees get a paid day off weekly through the course of the trial.

The companies signed up provide products and services ranging from education to workplace consultancy, leadership, personal development, online retail, sustainable homecare, and food and beverage and hospitality, among numerous others. They range in size from a local fish and chip shop to large corporates.

Names revealed so far for the trial are: Hutch, Yo Telecom, Adzooma, Pressure Drop Brewing, Happy, Platten’s Fish and Chips, MBL Seminars, Eurowagens, Outcomes First Group, NeatClean, 5 Squirrels, Salamandra, Girling Jones, AKA Case Management, IE Brand & Digital, Helping Hands, Trio Media, Physiquipe, and Literal Humans.

Also named is Bookishly, which offers book gifts including literary prints, personalised maps of the stars, tote bags, and book club subscription boxes and crates.

4 Day Week Global founder and architect Andrew Barnes said the UK trial and similar trials that have taken place in other countries are “laying the foundation for the future of work”.

He said the template built from the trials “will make it possible for many more businesses to trial, adapt and reap the benefits of emphasising productivity over time – and in doing so, comprehensively change how people engage in the world of work”.

Autonomy co-director Kyle Lewis added this first-phase trial “will connect businesses with training and mentoring support from international experts who have previously implemented similar programmes”.

Numerous studies have shown that moving to a four-day week boosts productivity and workers’ wellbeing. When Microsoft trialled a four-day week with no loss of pay in its Japan office, productivity went up by 40%.

Some industry companies have already made their own move to a four-day week. Wigan-based packaging manufacturer Belmont Packaging and its e-commerce division Boxed-Up made a full transition to a four-day week six months ago following a successful trial period that started within Belmont’s manufacturing division in July 2019.

Belmont wanted to make the change to give its employees a better work-life balance and improve their wellbeing.

Owner Kate Hulley and commercial manager Gareth Rollo have now sung the praises of the move and encouraged other companies to take the opportunity for change sooner rather than later.

The pair said they initially sat down with their team and discussed suggestions on how best the change would work in terms of factory hours and office hours before making any decisions.

“We are really glad we spent the time listening to our employees and communicating this change before it happened,” said Rollo.

“Listening to their thoughts and opinions has been the key to making the four-day week work for us six months on. We now have the office open for longer during the four days by having some of the team start earlier and others come in later.”

The company said it had to adapt its business model slightly to ensure it could still meet the demands of its customers.

Corrugated carboard packaging specialist Boxed-Up extended its cut-off time for next-day deliveries from 12pm to 1.45pm on Mondays to Thursdays, to give customers longer to order for next-day delivery.

Orders received after this time are packed and dispatched the following working day – so packed Monday for delivery on Tuesday if received after 1.45pm on a Thursday.

“The response from customers over the last six months has been really positive, the team has adapted really easily and we have worked solutions out for any customer who had urgent requirements on a Friday. You definitely learn by doing,” said Hulley.

The company has seen an increase in employee productivity levels, as staff have expressed that now their home life is easier – with more time to do the things they didn’t have time for before, so is their work life.

“We have noticed that all our employees return to work recharged and ready to take on a new day. They are not working longer but instead working smarter,” said Hulley.

The business said it has also opened several large new accounts since moving to a four-day week.