Four-day working week trial scheme to commence in June
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It's likely you worked from home, the workplace and maybe even a coffee shop over the past year or so. With Covid restrictions now lifted, there will be many who are skipping back to the office looking forward to the social side of working life and there will be others who will miss the easier pace of life working from home.
There have been many reports recently about a trial of a four-day working week by researchers at Oxford University, Boston College, Cambridge University and Think Tank Autonomy. The pilot scheme, titled 4 Day Week Global, includes 40 UK companies and will run from June to December 2022. What is it that they are looking to find as we surely all want to work a four-day week?
Joe O'Connor the 4 Day Week Global's pilot programme manager, said "reducing working time" was the remedy for this post-pandemic great global resignation wave". He believes that businesses are finding it much harder to retain the best people and attract the brightest talents.
"The scheme takes the focus off time spent at work and instead allows businesses to focus on the actual output. It also reduces sick leave and work burn out and in this time of the great resignation, it will be good for the retention of staff", he comments.
There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused burnout and emotional pressures so companies will be acutely aware of the well-being of their employees. It is hoped that a four-day working week would also reduce carbon emissions, reduce the number of sick days taken, improve mental health and therefore save jobs and the need to retrain new staff.
Atom Bank, a Durham based mobile app-based bank, adopted the four-day working week last November. All employees had their hours reduced with no drop in salary. CEO Mark Mullen said the move had improved employee mental and physical wellbeing, as well as business productivity. "In every top-line measure after two months, the data we have seen shows a positive trend in sickness, staff attrition and customer service. When we look at staff surveys, they show that 90% of employees feel they can do the workload they need to do within the four day period." He told The Evening Standard.
Time will tell whether we can work smarter and be as productive in four days as we can in five and whether employers will be open-minded enough to change the longstanding mantra of a Monday to Friday working week. We will of course update you when the trial results are published, but a three-day weekend will certainly be appealing to most office workers. As Andrew Barnes, owner of 4 day Week Global in Auckland says of a four-day working week "In fact productivity and profitability improves, so it is a sensible business strategy. The environmental and health benefits you get for free. We update our workspaces, our computer software and our health and safety practices constantly. So why can we not revise the work week?".
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