Four day work week trial proves successful. Is this the future of office working?

By Mason Berlinka

Published Feb 21, 2023 at 03:30 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Are you finding yourself aching after a long week at work, dreading the little time you’ll have over the weekend to pursue anything you actually want to do? The short two days of freedom from corporate life can be paralysing, especially when returning to work after the pandemic, and no amount of quiet quitting can absolve us of the stress of a five day working week. Some UK firms have taken notice of the strain the normal working week has on its employees, and after a successful trial — are now moving forward with a four day work week.

The shift comes after a successful UK pilot scheme started by the non-profit organisation 4 Day Week Globe in collaboration with think tank Autonomy. The scheme sees employers still paying their staff 100 per cent of their wages, while also providing its employees with an extra day off.. Work places involved ranged from charity groups like Citizens Advice, to the marketing and advertising sector.

Research behind the scheme, undertaken by the University of Cambridge and Boston College, revealed a significant drop in stress and illness among participating firms. Results also showed less sick days taken by staff, and a higher chance for employees to stay in their roles. Moreover, the study affirmed that revenue and output stays roughly the same—despite the one day reduction. Essentially the fat of a five day work week has been trimmed, allowing for productivity to shine when it matters.

Noémie Cohen, who works in advertising, took part independently in the drive for a four-day work week and told SCREENSHOT that she “felt a really big positive impact on my mental health and productivity.” With a bit of the work week pressure off, Cohen was able to fully enjoy her week and weekend while still feeling as though she experienced “the rush” of working life.

One Reddit user described the extra day as an opportunity to “run errands and start projects.” It’s time to catch up on life, or to relax and embrace a bit of hedonism. For Cohen, it was time to finish up “admin bits” and to pick up sewing—a hobby she’d have had difficulty making the time for, without a four day work week.

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The most exciting part of the scheme is the response from employers, 56 out of 61 agreed to continue with the work-life structure, at least for now. 18 of the companies involved embraced the new policy and added it permanently into their structure. The fact that only five firms chose to not go ahead with the scheme bodes well for the future of our free time.

Cohen, as well as other testimonials from those who took part in the trial attest to the positive impacts that the extra day off provided them. It’s a well received endeavour that the modern world can absolutely accommodate. The research insisted that the mission was “ready to take the next step from experimentation to implementation.”

While some critics argue that not every sector will be able to accommodate these aims, it is perfectly viable through schemes such as extra hiring that allows people odd days off in the week. In essence— business can still run for five days a week while ensuring their employees are well rested and looked after.

After a pandemic spent indoors, gen Z are painfully aware of the pros and cons of office living and have been well acquainted with  the banality of the “busyness” office lifestyle. We don’t want to be anywhere we don’t need to be, and the success of the four day scheme is a testimony to how much time we actually waste thanks to long weeks, lethargic office environments brought on by overwork, and potentially one too many green teas.

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