Four-day week – could this be the best thing since sliced bread?

Date posted: 13th June 2022

Starting this week, in a trial lasting six months, more than 3,000 workers at 70 companies in the UK will begin to test out the pros and cons of working a four-day week with no loss of pay.

At a time when many organisations are considering how they might operate their businesses more efficiently in the future and become an ‘employer of choice’ in an increasingly competitive employment market, this four-day week trial could not be timelier. But what could it mean for the future of work and how could a move to a four-day work for both the employer and employee?

According to Statista. (, a leading provider of market and consumer data, in March 2022, the average weekly number of hours worked by full-time workers in the United Kingdom was 36.6. In Norway, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, the average hours worked per week are around 27, which is around the same number of hours proposed for a UK four-day work week; 28 hours over four-days. Whilst there are many who might fear that a shorter working week would negatively impact on productivity, the evidence from organisations in countries that have adopted a four-day week policy do not seem to show any detriment to productivity or business outputs in any way. Indeed, they have demonstrably benefited from a shorter week through increases in employee satisfaction, stronger commitment to the employing company and significant decreases in stress levels across the employee groups. 

The aim of this extensive 4-day week trial will be to assess the impact on productivity in the business, the wellbeing of its workers, the impact on the environment, along with gender equality. The impact on workers satisfaction levels both whilst at work as well as at home, their stress levels, quality of sleep, general health, and wellbeing, as well as energy consumption for travel will all be assessed and measured over the coming months.

But what could all these mean for employers? The hope is that the trial will show that organisations can be competitive, productive, and successful when their workforce works fewer days each week. And what about the employees? The hope is they will be happier in and out of work, will be more present and more committed, all of which will lead them to contributing more to support the success of the business.

However, there are some reservations with the proposed move to a shorter week. A reduction in hours might be harder for some departments within an organisation to accommodate, for example in IT, Finance, and HR. Also, the move to a shorter week may be challenging if not impossible for some sectors, such as in the care sector. Organisations that provide customer service cover would have to also carefully consider how they might service their customer needs if the business were to operate over fewer days. If these areas of reservation could be addressed during the trial, may be the future is a shorter working week for the majority of UK employees.

So is the four-day week the best thing since sliced bread? The indicators are that it might be!

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