Four-day work week found to boost revenue

A six-month experiment of a four-day work week was found to be successful by nine in ten participating companies, boosting revenue and decreasing staff turnover for many.

Among the 61 UK organisations participating in the 4 Day Week Campaign study, revenue was found to rise by over a third over the trial period, compared with the same time in 2021, while the amount of employees leaving the company fell, reported the Financial Times.

At the end of the six-month period in the second half of last year, 38 of the 61 companies revealed plans to continue with the trial, while 18 said they would maintain the four-day week permanently, owing to benefits gained.

Four in ten employees said they felt stressed during the trial, while almost three-quarters said levels of burnout had decreased.

Additionally, staff cited improved balance between work and family commitments.

Businesses opted for a range of days worked, with some giving staff the Friday off, while others let employees work 80 per cent of their previous hours on a flexible basis.

The trial was overseen by the 4 Day Week Global campaign group, alongside think tank Autonomy, and researchers at Boston College, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford.

Companies that took part in the four-day week study came from an array of sectors, including banking, education, IT and retail, with almost 3,000 employees participating.

“Before the trial, many questioned whether we would see an increase in productivity to offset the reduction in working time, but this is exactly what we found,” study leader Brendan Burchell, a sociology professor at the University of Cambridge, told The Times.

“Many employees were very keen to find efficiency gains themselves. Long meetings with too many people were cut short or ditched completely. Workers were much less inclined to kill time, and actively sought out technologies that improved their productivity.”

Joe Ryle, director of the 4-Day Week Campaign, referred to the study results a “major breakthrough moment”, adding: “Across a wide variety of different sectors of the economy, these incredible results show that the four-day week actually works.”

Study criticisms

The offering of flexible working arrangements beyond the 9-5 Monday-Friday office model widely adopted date back to the pandemic, but critics of a four-day week identified the self-selecting nature of the UK pilot as a factor that makes staff turnover less likely.

Arguments have also been made that any productivity boosts that would have initially occurred due to a four-day work week may disappear once implemented permanently.

70 companies were asked to participate in the nationwide experiment, but nine turned the opportunity down due to a lack of preparation, worries around staff output, and concerns that performance would not be measured properly.

Further reading

Running your small business – essential guide

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is a senior reporter for Information Age, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.

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