Sixty-one companies in the United Kingdom joined a pilot program in June 2022 in which they reduced their employees' workweek to four days—with no reduction in salary—and eight months later, 91% of them say they have no plans to go back to a five-day week.
Organized by the advocacy group 4 Day Week Global, the research group Autonomy, and researchers at Boston College and the University of Cambridge, the pilot program was the largest that's taken place so far. It ran for six months last year and included companies from a variety of sectors with a total of about 3,000 employees.
According to 4 Day Week Global's report, released Monday, companies were given a choice as to how they would shorten their workweeks, with some opting for Fridays off and others reducing working days per year so employees would work an average of 32 hours per week.
Ninety-one percent said after the trial wrapped up in December that they would continue implementing the 32-hour week, and 18 companies—nearly a third—said they were committing to a permanent change based on the test run. Just three said they would return to a five-day week.
The companies did not experience decreased revenue, as critics of reduced working hours have claimed they would. Revenues rose 35% on average, compared with the same time period in previous years.
More than 70% of workers reported lower levels of "burnout," and employees reported fewer experiences of anxiety and increased "positive emotions" during the trial.
"It is also encouraging to see that participants reported slight improvements in their physical health," reads the study report. "With 37% of employees reporting improvements in physical health (versus 18% decreases), the study suggests that a four-day workweek has the potential to reduce costs associated with healthcare."
The pilot program expanded on an earlier experiment conducted by 4 Day Week Global, whose results were published in November. That test involved about 30 companies and 1,000 employees. None of the companies that participated went back to a five-day week after the trial.
"No question about it—the U.K.'s four-day week trial was a huge success," said 4 Day Week Campaign, the organization's Britain-based campaign group. "It's time for the four-day week to go mainstream."
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