Where The Four-Day Work Week Is Finally Taking Hold

Learn where the four-day work week is actually becoming a reality.

By Kristi Eckert | Published

four-day work week worker productivity

In recent years there has been a lot of support for the transition to a four-day work week on a broad scale. Studies have found that a four-day work week has the potential to boost things like productivity and employee morale. It also has the propensity to combat mental health stressors. These are all viable reasons for companies to consider adopting it. Unfortunately, most companies in the United States have largely rejected the model, despite its seemingly obvious benefits. That being said, the four-day work week may be beginning to take hold in one part of the world. CNN reported that the biggest four-day work week trial run to date is about to take place in the United Kingdom.

The momentous four-day work week pilot that’s about to begin over in the UK, consists of over 70 participating companies. According to CNN, the nature of companies participating in the trial is vast and varied. The publication made note of the fact that businesses in the financial sector to a restaurant specializing in fish and chips are all willing participants. As a result, approximately 3,300 workers will be allowed to try out the four-day work week.

A collective effort was put forth by several organizations to get the four-day work week pilot up and running. This included help from researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University, and Boston College. The non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global as well as the 4 Day Week UK Campaign were also key players in making the pilot program a reality.

The premise of the four-day work week trial run in the UK is simple. Employees are expected to work four days out of the week, with the guarantee that there will be no change in the amount of money that they are paid despite working one less day. Additionally, those eight hours lost are not expected to be shoved into the four working days. In exchange for the extra day off, workers have to demonstrate to their employers that they can still maintain (or improve upon) their existing levels of productivity. Theoretically, if the trial period proves fruitful for both parties, then the participating companies would end up adopting the four-day work week permanently.

The companies who have decided to participate in the four-day work week trial run over in the UK have cited that the pandemic is really what caused them to reevaluate how they run their businesses. “The pandemic [has] made us think a great deal about work and how people organize their lives,” disclosed Sienna O’Rourke, who works as the brand manager at Pressure Drop Brewing, an independent brewery in London. As such, O’Rourke said that she believes participating in the four-day work week is a testament to her company’s commitment to every employee’s health and well-being.

Whether the four-day work week ends up taking more of a stronghold in society remains to be seen. And even if it does, those in the United States will likely not be privy to the benefits. This is because of the prevailing work culture that still percolates throughout the US. For instance, the United States is the only country that does not guarantee any vacation time. Whereas many European countries guarantee residents a month or more of time off. From that angle, many Americans literally take pride in running themselves ragged and never taking time for themselves. And unfortunately, many businesses have learned to take advantage of this sweeping sentiment. That being said, following the onset of the pandemic, US workers have become more likely than ever to prioritize a work-life balance and voice their needs to their employers. Leaning on that rationale, perhaps a four-day work week will one day be measurably present in the US.