Lovewell’s logic: Should the UK move to a four-day week?

Last week, The Telegraph featured an article focusing on the experiences of several organisations currently participating in the UK’s pilot of a four-day working week.

During the pilot, which is running between June and December 2022, more than 3,000 employees from 70 organisations across the UK will work 80% of their hours with no reduction in pay. In return, they have had to guarantee they will continue to maintain at least 100% productivity.

As the pilot reaches its halfway point, participants seem to be reporting mixed experiences. Several, for example, appear to be experiencing doubts as to whether they are likely to continue with the working model beyond the pilot period, citing factors such as challenges with recruitment, difficulties on staff handover days and having too much work as a business for it to be sustainable. On the flip side, however, others are already reporting benefits such as happier employees, higher productivity and a positive impact on recruitment.

According to research published by comparison site NerdWallet in July, there appears to be demand for a shorter working week among employees. Of the 1,310 workers surveyed who currently work a five-day week, just under three-quarters (72%) were either strongly in favour or in favour of a four-day working week. But while just under two-thirds (63%) felt confident that they could do their existing job in four days, more than half (53%) felt that their current employer would be unlikely to implement a four-day week.

As someone who has worked a four-day week for several years now, I can certainly vouch for its benefits on a personal level. While I fit a five-day a week role and workload into four days, the arrangement provides greater flexibility to work around childcare and spend time with my young family. I’d definitely have to think long and hard about returning to a five-day working week.

I’ll be interested to see the final results, and how many organisations opt to continue with a four-day working week, once the pilot ends later this year.

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Changing mindsets around the four-day working week will also be one the topics discussed by panelists including Anne-Marie Lister, chief people officer at Atom Bank, and Daniel Chan, global workplace and wellbeing lead at Dentsu International, during a session titled ‘How to promote health and wellbeing benefits to the workplace’ at Employee Benefits Live on Wednesday 5 October. View the full agenda.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell