One of the world’s biggest trials of a four-day working week has shown that a shorter schedule helps employees and companies stay more productive.
According to an AFP report, over 60 companies in Britain took part in a six-month experiment, between June and December, allowing almost 3,000 employees to work one day less per week while retaining the same salary. The study was organised by non-profit group 4 Day Week Global, think tank Autonomy, the University of Cambridge and Boston College.
“Results are largely steady across workplaces of varying sizes, demonstrating this is an innovation which works for many types of organisations,” said lead researcher and Boston College professor Juliet Schor.
Productivity did not suffer from the lighter working weeks, with company revenue rising 1.4% on average over the trial. Revenue jumped 35% on average, when compared with similar periods from previous years, states the AFP report.
As the world explores post-pandemic flexibility, trying to find a balance between work from home and the physical office, some countries, like the US, Canada and Australia, are exploring the concept of a shorter workweek.
Whether it extends to other nations remains to be seen, it shows the consistent interest and effort in finding different ways to improve employee productivity and efficiency.
For instance, the 4 Day Week Global study concluded that during the trial hiring increased and absenteeism dropped, while the number of staff leaving fell sharply.
In addition, researchers concluded that the overall health and well-being of employees had improved.
“Significant” increases were observed in physical and mental health, time spent exercising, and overall life and job satisfaction. Rates of stress, burnout and fatigue all fell, while problems with sleep declined, according to the statement.
MORE THAN JUST PRODUCTIVITY
The study also found that the mental health of the participants improved during the trial period. “In terms of employees, their mental health improved, they got better sleep, they got less burnt out,” Cambridge University’s Professor Brendan Burchell told AFP. “But at the same time, the companies reported that if there were changes in their profits or their performance, if anything they were more likely to go up rather than down.
“And we got lots of very happy people—people really enjoyed it; they found it such a reward to have three day weekends instead of two day weekends.”
Tyler Grange, a UK environmental consultancy, was among the 18 firms to adopt the four-day week permanently after taking part. “My experience has only been really, really positive—you can see it in people day-to-day at work, that they’re more energized at work,” Tyler Grange client director Nathan Jenkinson told AFP. Employees “come into work at the start of the week on a Monday, having had three days rest, and they’re feeling much more positive about work and got a lot more energy”.
Tyler Grange reported that turnover increased slightly despite the reduced hours.