The four-day working week has been made permanent by most UK companies in the world’s biggest trial

The revolution is coming

Annie McNamee
Written by
Annie McNamee
Contributor, Time Out London and UK
Commuters and pedestrians in London
Photograph: Shutterstock

In shocking news to bosses and billionaires, people are happier to work when they have enough free time to see their families, do their hobbies and generally enjoy their lives. In 2022, 61 companies in the UK partook in a six month long trial of the four-day work week, and a year on it has been revealed that nearly 90 percent of those organisations have maintained the policy. 

The staff did not get a pay cut, nor did they work ten-hour long days. They did all of their work in a 32-hour week, and more than half of the companies’ leaders reported it had a positive effect on staff, with lower turnover, better wellbeing and increased productivity.

One charity which took part in the trial reported that it improved employee satisfaction, and was a good alternative to high salaries they are unable to offer. Paul Oliver, the COO at Citizens Advice Gateshead, explained ‘We wanted to see a way to improve staff conditions so they would be better rested and could give more to work.’

Fifty-four of the companies that tried the three day weekend are still doing it, and 31, which is just over half, have decided to keep it permanently. Researchers found that the benefits, namely lower rates of burnout and better health amongst staff members, persisted beyond the initial six month trial, suggesting that people feel better when they aren’t overworked. Surprise, surprise. 

So what now? Will we all start getting to take an extra day off? Sadly, not quite. Some businesses still aren’t sold on the whole ‘employees are humans who need rest’ concept, so they might take some time before coming around. 

The Scottish government has begun a trial in the public sector, with 140 staff members at South of Scotland Enterprise currently enjoying the sweet, sweet taste of an extra lie in.

Someday in the not so distant future, the four-day work week may be a reality for more of us. Until then, we can only dream of all the lives we’ll live on that extra day of freedom. Keen to find out more about working less? Here are 12 takeaways from the UK’s four-day working week experiment

Time Out and the four-day working week

We followed the official four-day working week trial pretty closely here at Time Out. From the launch of the project and official kick-off to the feedback from companies and experiences of workers who took part, you can read up on the scheme right here. 

Did you know that the first batch of tickets to the Edinburgh Fringe went on sale today

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