What would you do with an extra day off each week? Spend the morning at a gallery, watch a new blockbuster film – or finally help out at that community gardening project you’ve always had your eye on?
Well, participants in this six-month trial in the UK are about to find out exactly how they’d spend that bonus free time. Workers at more than 30 UK businesses are taking part in the pilot, which will see the working week reduced to four days.
They will be asked to do the same amount of work as before, and for up to 35 hours per week, but this will be split over four days not five. They will also be paid the same as before. The trial forms part of the 4 Day Week Campaign: a scheme that supports businesses making a shift away from the traditional nine-to-five. Run alongside the thinktank Autonomy, and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the study aims to measure the impact of a shorter work week on wellbeing, productivity and gender equality in the office.
Similar studies are being held in the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, with pilots already under way in Spain and Scotland. Researchers reckon that benefits include higher performance for employers and better work-life balance for employees. And it’s even good for the planet, as a four-day week could see a reduction of around 127 million tonnes of carbon per year – equivalent to taking 27 million cars off the road.
UK firms said to be considering a permanent work-week shift in the short term include big companies like Unilever and Morrisons. Finance firm Atom Bank, meanwhile, has already switched to a four-day schedule. Here’s hoping many more companies decide to make the change.