The four-day work week: is the world ready?

Are employees and employers ready for the four-day working week? According to the results of a global six-month pilot programme, we might well just be…


The study – run by researchers at Cambridge and Oxford Universities and Boston College, 4 Day Week Global and the UK think tank, Autonomy – has tested and explored the 100:80:100 model in a number of countries, including the UK. The idea is that, in exchange for a commitment to maintaining at least 100 per cent productivity, workers can enjoy an additional day off without any impact on their pay or benefits.


To date, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Seemingly, condensing our work week to four days doesn’t affect our productivity. In fact, many participating companies found that productivity levels improved. A shorter working week was also found, in many cases, to positively impact employee work-life balance and satisfaction, the environment and gender equality.


To deep-dive the detail, please see articles on the subject published by the BBC and Euronews. Alternatively, for a quick stroll through the key points, please read on:


86% of the 70 UK companies who participated in the trial said the experiment was successful. They say they are ‘extremely likely’ or ‘likely’ to consider keeping the four-day week policy in place going forwards.


In addition to maintaining (or even, in some cases, improving) productivity levels, some companies said the financial savings for employees on transport and childcare were an appealing additional benefit.


Key to the trial’s success was employee motivation. The majority of workers embraced having fewer meetings (or even zero-meeting days) and increasing independent work to achieve a positive outcome.


Sadly, a four-day workweek may still be a pipe dream for many workers. While it lends itself well to innovative, nimble technology companies, for example, for many industries and roles it’s simply not a realistic option. For the moment…


Other concerns that might put a dampener on uptake relate to added operating costs and reduced competitiveness, plus the pressure on some employees to work long hours to squeeze their work tasks into four days. Rather than tackling burnout and stress levels, this last consideration could devalue the work situation of some employees.


In the US and Ireland, the trial also positively impacted company performance, productivity and employee wellbeing. Employees reported lower stress and fatigue levels, plus an improved work-life balance and greater job satisfaction. Similar trials in Belgium, Spain, Japan, Australia and New Zealand have delivered equally promising results.


On balance, could the time be ripe for the working world (or at least your company) to switch to a four-day work week? Please get in touch at or on 020 7092 3911 to let us know your views on this fascinating topic. As always, our team of expert recruitment consultants will be delighted to hear from you!