August 12, 2022

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

John Bader
21st June, 2022

Long weekends just got one day longer for over 3,300 employees around the UK in the biggest four-day work week trial ever conducted.

June 7th, 2022, marks the beginning of a four-day work week trial for over 3,300 employees from 70 companies around the UK. This trial, the biggest ever conducted in the world, will assess the impact of reducing a work week from five to four days on various aspects of life, including health, wellbeing and energy levels. 

The concept of a four-day work week is based on the commitment model of 100-80-100. This model guarantees that employees get 100% of their pay for 80% of the time they used to work, in return for 100% productivity. The ongoing trial will be testing the applicability of this model, as well as its efficacy and impact on both employees and their work. 

The results of the trial, initiated by 4 Day Week Global alongside other organisations, will be assessed by researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College. “We’ll be analysing how employees respond to having an extra day off, in terms of stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, health, sleep, energy use, travel, and many other aspects of life,” explains economist and sociologist Juliet Schor from Boston College, the project’s lead researcher. 

As the concept seems to be gaining momentum, 4 Day Week Global will be running a similar trial in Australia and New Zealand later this year. An earlier trial had already been carried out in Iceland but on a smaller scale than one being currently conducted in the UK, involving around 2,500 employees. The results were promising as they indicated numerous benefits to employees, and no significant drop in productivity.  

While employees’ wellbeing and work productivity are the main elements of the trial, the environment might be an indirect beneficiary. Research suggests that by reducing work hours we may be able to reduce CO2 emissions, one of the main factors contributing to the ongoing climate change crisis.

“The four-day week is generally considered to be a triple dividend policy – helping employees, companies, and the climate,” Schor says. “Our research efforts will be digging into all of this.”    

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Just out of curiosity, will Thursday become the new Friday, or Monday turn into a chill Sunday?

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John Bader is the News Editor for I,Science and is studying an MSc in Science Media Production at Imperial College London