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Is a Four-Day Work Week in the Future?

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Thanks to the COVID stay-at-home order, traditional work schedules have forever changed. Rather than having to go into an office daily, many companies have adopted either a remote working schedule or a hybrid that allows employees to split their time between home and office. In one of the biggest pilot programs undertaken in the United Kingdom, the latest shift in office scheduling may look like a four-day work week. 

In the study, participating companies could either shorten their employees’ workweek by giving them one extra day off or reducing their working hours to an average of 32 hours per week, while still paying them their usual salary. At the end of the six-month trial, employees reported lower stress levels, increased mental health, more sleep and decreed that “no amount of money” could persuade them to return to a five-day work week. Additionally, companies’ revenue rose approximately 35% when compared to previous years and there were fewer resignations. 

While 61 companies participated, 56 will continue to implement four-day workweeks (18 of which stressing the decision would be permanent), two are continuing the trial period and only two companies are not going to follow the four-day workweek. 

In undertaking the study, companies are attempting to figure out the best solution that works for their employees and the company as a whole. Following COVID, many have struggled with burnout and the trend of “quiet quitting.” 

The company spearheading these pilot programs, 4 Day Week Global, is hoping to make this a global campaign to advocate for a better work-life balance. Not only does the change in work scheduling lead to better mental health overall, results highlighted that people experienced more time with their family, particularly child care. 

Although the concept has increased in recent times, it is still not the standard practiced globally and may be more difficult to undertake with larger corporate companies. The businesses that participated in the study were all fairly small, with 25 employees or less. While many are proponents of the shift change, opponents stress the widespread staff shortages that are already an issue won’t make the four-day workweek as feasible for many. 

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for an office schedule and set up, the idea is certainly reverberating through society and putting the question forward of needing an update to a possibly antiquated system. 

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