Thousands of workers from United kingdom As of Monday (6/6), 70 companies will participate in a four-week trial.
The world’s largest labor standards pilot project has been organized by a group advocating shorter workweeks without a loss of wages. During the trial, employees will get 100% of their salary to work 80% of the original day with the aim of testing their productivity.
Professors from the University of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as Boston College in the US, will conduct the research in partnership with the Autonomy Research Centre.
Participating companies range from software developers to companies doing recruitment work for NGOs and local shops serving fish and chips, a typical British dish.
The experiment, in which about 3,000 workers from United kingdom, part of a global initiative that includes similar but smaller scale trials in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Recently, the Portuguese government also announced that it intends to launch a similar pilot programme, with around 100 volunteer companies.
Sam Smith says the pandemic has changed the way people work and it is time to test alternatives to the dominant paradigm – Image: BBC
Sam Smith, co-founder of Pressure Drop Brewery in Tottenham, north London, said it was a “good time” for his company to try different working practices.
“The pandemic has made us think a lot about work and how people organize their lives,” he says. “We are doing this to improve the lives of our team and to be part of a gradual change in the world that will improve people’s mental health and well-being.”
The challenge that Smith faced while piloting was very simple. His team of nine have to brew and bottle the same amount of beer they do now – but in four days instead of five.
“I think it has to do with the way you spend your time,” Smith says. “So when I’m talking about being productive, I don’t mean being faster at the task you’re at right now, but rather, say, using your normal downtime that you have to better prepare for the day ahead.”
Claire Doherty, who runs Smith’s company, said the test was “fantastic” and part of the “natural progression of how we work.” She explained that working in the industry for more than four years and knowing her ability to do her job makes her feel confident in her ability to complete tasks efficiently in less than a day.
“It would mean a few minutes less surfing the web at work, because you need to be a little more focused to get what you need to do in the time you have,” she said.
Claire Doherty says the four-day work week will require more focus – Image: BBC
Meanwhile, Craig Carmichael, who also works at the brewery, thinks an extra day off will motivate him to work even harder.
“If I knew I had to do things in four days to take advantage of that extra day, I think it would be a good incentive,” he told the BBC.
Cut off unproductive activities
“a test United kingdom It’s historic,” said Juliette Shore, principal investigator for the 4-Day Global Week Project, and an economist and sociologist at Boston College.
The problem with the five-day week, she said, is that work can simply fit in overtime.
“Adherence to a strict, time-limited system that is a century old does not make sense,” Schorr added. “You can be 100% productive 80% of the time in many workplaces, and companies around the world have proven it.”
However, the researcher acknowledges that the idea may not appeal to everyone or suit all professions, such as health and education, where workers may already be overworked and stressed. But even if employees are only 10% more productive, the balance may still be positive, she says, if the new system leads to lower rates of illness among workers, fewer people leaving their jobs, and if it is easier to attract new employees.
Girling Jones, a small construction recruitment firm in Exeter, England, changed its work schedule to four days a week in January but also signed up for the trial.
The company’s president and founder, Simon Gerling, said productivity was up, and so did profits. He added, “All our activities – calls, meetings, interviews, are flourishing…Everyone gets more done in less time.”
Elaine Andreessen says her sleep has improved after she started working four days a week – Image: BBC
The staff are happier too – Elaine Andreessen said she uses her day off to unwind. “I’m definitely more motivated. One of the things I’ve noticed is sleep. I sleep better and get out of bed a lot easier.”
His colleague Josh Cockrell said spending more time with his daughter helps him save money at day care. “Having a day off in the middle of the week encourages you to work harder until that day off,” he said.
Simon Girling said his company has made significant productivity gains since implementing the four-day workweek in January.
After changing the daily routine during the Covid pandemic, the company was ready to experiment with new working patterns. “Four days a week have revolutionized the company,” Gerling said. “After the pandemic, we did a lot of research on this topic and couldn’t find any negative points (in reducing the work week to four days),” he said.
“I think with this four day weekly beta we will have really detailed insights into that. I am not sure if it will work with every industry or company, but it is a really good opportunity for a lot of them to change the way we work and improve.”
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