The four-day working week is very much back on the agenda. Spurred on by the official Four-Day Week campaign, which has persuaded more than 30 companies in the UK to trial the scheme this year, more and more people are entertaining the possibility of a healthier work-life balance. What was once considered a distant dream now looks like it might actually become reality for many.
The latest development in the four-day-week saga has come from the most promising place yet. The Welsh government is now being urged to trial a four-day working week in the public sector. And it isn’t being ‘urged’ by just anyone. That recommendation has come from Sophie Howe, Wales’s future generations commissioner, whose role it is to provide advice to the Welsh government on the wellbeing of generations to come.
According to the think tank Autonomy, around two-thirds of Welsh people support a four-day working week. The report also says that the measure could help staff recover from sickness, cut carbon emissions (by reducing commuting) and improve gender equality in the workplace. On the flipside, Autonomy reckons it could cost the Welsh gov £1 billion to employ more workers – though this would quickly be made up for by increased productivity.
The idea of a four-day working week has been around for a while, with plenty of trials having taken place around the world in recent years. The Four-Day campaign argues that if workers have more recreational time, they not only feel better in themselves but are actually more productive (and so boost company profits).
Some recent stats put the number of public sector workers in Wales at just over 430,000. Which means that, should the Welsh government take Howe’s advice and implement a four-day working week, it would be the biggest trial yet of the scheme in the UK. Next: the rest of the country?
Want to get in on the act? Here’s how to get your company to sign up for the UK’s four-day working week trial.