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Alert: the four-day working week has officially gone mainstream

More UK businesses are offering a three-day weekend than ever before, according to a new study

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham

Until a few months ago, the four-day working week was little more than a distant dream. The idea of working fewer hours per week and getting a three-day weekend every week, all for the same pay, seemed far too good to be true. But the idea is now going fully mainstream. More and more companies and governments around the world are now entertaining the idea of a four-day future.  

The main argument for introducing a four-day working week in this: when workers are faced with working fewer days, they’re shown to be more productive and enjoy better wellbeing. Several studies have shown that both productivity and profits can actually increase when employees have more personal time. You can read a short history of the campaign for a four-day working week and the previous trials here

The four-day working week campaign was given yet another boost last week. A study from the University of Reading surveyed 500 businesses in the UK and found that 65 percent now offered the option to work a shorter week. Those same companies reported that employees’ quality of work improved and that their stress levels decreased, while businesses also found it easier to attract and maintain staff. And the result of all that? The companies apparently saved an average of £18,000 every year. 

Over in New York, meanwhile, the governor Kathy Hochul and mayor Eric Adams both appeared last week to admit that, thanks to the pandemic, a five-day working week may never be the norm again. Those are two people in very, very high places, both admitting a four-day week could be the future. We can almost taste those delicious three-day weekends already.

These recent developments follow the news earlier this year of a vast new trial in the UK spearheaded by the official Four-Day Week Campaign. More than 30 companies are taking part in the scheme (plus, potentially, the entire Welsh government), which is being coordinated with Oxford and Cambridge unis. If you’re in the UK, you’ve actually still got time to sign up your company to the trial (find out how to do so here – you’ve got until March 31).

So… on to a three-day-week next?

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