UK Businesses Conduct Shortened Work Week Experiment

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73 companies reduced hours to 32 per week while maintaining the same rate of employee pay.

While the five-day work week has been a universal standard around the world for as long as anyone can remember, there have recently been movements to change that. Major world events like the COVID-19 pandemic have helped people realize that forcing employees to remain in the office for the vast majority of the week doesn’t actually do anything for productivity, and may even be lessening productivity. Of course, enacting a new industry standard isn’t likely, at least without data to back it up. That’s exactly what 73 companies in the UK are working to provide.

With the backing of Charlotte Lockhart, founder of work advocacy organization Four Day Week, 73 companies in the UK ran a trial experiment, lowering their weekly operating hours to 32 instead of 40. The crucial component here was that, despite the hour decrease, none of the employees’ salaries were affected. Less work, same pay.

While the official data from this experiment is not ready yet, early testimonies have been very positive. As they’re not forced to remain in the office, employees have been more rested and upbeat. Additionally, the decreased work time has resulted in better prioritization of tasks, rather than trying to fill up the slow hours of the day with busywork. In other words, productivity is up.

“Workers have different preferences; different ways of working,” Esme Terry of the Digital Futures at Work Research Center told NPR on the subject. “Some people like to have prescribed hours; very set hours. They know exactly what they’re doing when they’re doing it, and they find that productive. Other people like to be able to work when they feel they’re most productive. and that might not be in core working hours.”

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4 months ago