Four-day week pilot companies update on progress

Richard Stuart-Turner
Tuesday, September 20, 2022

A raft of businesses on the UK’s six-month trial of a four-day working week pilot programme have provided feedback on their experiences so far at the halfway point.

The Bookishly team are taking part in the trial. Image: Bookishly
The Bookishly team are taking part in the trial. Image: Bookishly

The launch of the 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.

More than 70 organisations signed up for the pilot, which kicked off at the beginning of June and has seen just under 3,300 employees get a paid day off weekly through the course of the trial.

Reporting on the early findings, 4 Day Week Global CEO Joe O’Connor says, “The organisations in the United Kingdom pilot are contributing real-time data and knowledge that are worth their weight in gold.

“Essentially, they are laying the foundation for the future of work by putting a four-day week into practice, across every size of business and nearly every sector, and telling us exactly what they are finding as they go.

“We are learning that for many it is a fairly smooth transition and for some there are some understandable hurdles – especially among those which have comparatively fixed or inflexible practices, systems, or cultures which date back well into the last century.

“While for most organisations the pilot prompts many pleasing discoveries and outcomes – a lot of businesses have more flexibility and nimbleness among their people and teams that leaders often know at the outset – there is friction for others, and this can be based on a variety of factors, many of which can be addressed or substantially improved in the pilot itself.

“4 Day Week Global and our partners are supporting these businesses to ease their transition to a flexible work model, and using the findings to inform the process for many more businesses to trial, adapt, and reap the benefits of emphasising productivity over time – thereby transforming the world of work for all of us.”

The only print-related company on 4 Day Week Global’s trial is Bookishly, which offers a range of literary inspired products including prints, stationery and clothing subscriptions.

Director Louise Verity recently told Printweek that she wanted to be part of the pilot “to contribute to the research that could take the four-day week concept into the mainstream”.

“I really believe that it’s the future of work and I wanted to show that a small business like ours can do it. I’m hoping that the benefits to the team are going to be really clear from the start.

“One day a week less childcare to pay for. One day a week less fuel to get to work. A day to spend on all the life admin we have to do which keeps your weekend free for fun times!”

Although she noted that productivity was always going to be the main challenge of the four-day week, and said the team need to make sure that orders are going out on time and that customers “hardly notice that we have one less shipping day”.

41 of the companies on the trial had responded to a survey asking for their thoughts so far, with 88% of respondents stating that the four-day week is working ‘well’ for their business at this stage in the trial.

46% of respondents said their business productivity has ‘maintained around the same level’, while 34% said it has ‘improved slightly’, and 15% said it has ‘improved significantly’.

86% of respondents stated that at this stage of the trial, they would be ‘extremely likely’ or ‘likely’ to consider retaining the four-day week policy after the trial period.

Claire Daniels, CEO at digital marketing agency Trio Media, said: “The four-day week trial so far has been extremely successful for us. Productivity has remained high, with an increase in wellness for the team, along with our business performing 44% better financially.”

An anonymous respondent, meanwhile, commented: “Radically rethinking the real value of everything you do as a business is never going to be seamless. To just try and cram the same work into shorter hours completely misunderstands the problem we are seeking to fix.

“The four-day week pilot has already shown us that there are things we could have implemented years ago which would have improved our productivity and offered increased value for the organisations we work with.”

See the recent Printweek briefing on the four-day working week, for further analysis and comment.

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