After various pilots in other parts of the world, a six month trial will launch in the UK in June. It will be co-ordinated by 4 Day Week Global, with support from think tank Autonomy.
The key proposition behind the campaign has been described as the 100:80:100 model: 100 per cent of the pay for 80 per cent of the hours with 100 per cent of the output. Although compressed hours – ie fitting five days’ worth of hours into four days – is also on the flexible working menu, this new approach focuses on empowering workers to work fewer, but more productive hours.
In recent survey by Henley Business School two thirds of employers adopting a four day week report a reduction in costs while maintaining the quality of work being produced and significantly improving staff wellbeing and engagement. However, it does not necessarily follow that four day working is easy to implement, or will be right for all organisations. As Associate Professor Dr Rita Fontinha puts it in the report: “any company considering introducing a four-day week policy should start slow”.
Issues to grapple with at the outset include how to assess productivity, how rostering will work to cover the full working week and whether the model is workable for all roles. In addition, the contractual basis of any new arrangements needs to be considered, and comparable measures should be put in place for employees who are already working part time.
That said, there has arguably never been a better time to re-shape the traditional working week in a way that benefits both employers and workers. As we emerge from the pandemic, a much higher percentage of the workforce has become accustomed to flexible working and research shows that offering four day working is already a key differentiator in the labour market. It may be too early for many employers to take the plunge, but it would not be surprising if increasing numbers felt ready to dip their toes into the water.
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