Why companies across the UK are moving towards a four-day work week

Simon Girling

What is believed to be the largest worldwide pilot of the idea is currently taking place across the UK (Photo: Girling Jones)

The latest much-discussed work trend is getting more and more talked about lately – the four-day work week.

What is believed to be the largest worldwide pilot of the idea ever takes place across the UK, with more than 60 organizations now enrolled.

Conducted by the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, the trial will run for six months from June and will see more than 3,000 workers participate.

There will be no wage loss for employees who work one day less per week – instead they are asked to maintain 100% productivity for 80% of their time.

New research last month showed that around 72% of UK office workers said they would prefer a four-day work week.

And nearly 125,000 people have now signed a petition calling on the government for a four-day work week.

But how would it work in principle, and how would it benefit companies instead of just their employees? Some of the companies involved in the lawsuit spoke to Metro.co.uk.

Simon Girling, CEO of recruitment consulting firm Girling Jones, explained that he planned to try a four-day week in January 2022, when 4 Day Week Global announced its pilot scheme at the end of last year.

Simon Girling

There will be no wage loss for employees who work one day less per week (Photo: Girling Jones)

Simon Girling

Although dogs in the office can encourage people to come in more (Photo: Girling Jones)

“It was nice to know that we were now part of a much larger movement,” he said. ‘We are now three months in and the first signs are extremely positive.’

The director of the company, which is based in Exeter, Devon, added “simply, we want to improve the lives of our staff” and hopes that employees will be “happier and more energetic with the ability to spend more time doing those things. that’s really important to them ‘.

“After three months, this seems to be working with 100% of our employees describing positive effects on their well-being and work-life balance,” Simon said.

‘Our team has reported that they have more energy, sleep better and wake up naturally. Some have reported that they feel less guilty about working and being better parents as a result, and all are enjoying the change in pace and slower in their lives. ‘

He added that there is great variation in how people spend their days off – some use the time to free up their weekends by doing housework, others have started new hobbies, or some visit friends and family with their extra free time.

Simon said his main goal was to help attract more employees and retain his existing workforce, and he further hoped it would improve productivity.

Simon Girling

Staff have reported that they have more energy, sleep better and wake up naturally (Photo: Girling Jones)

“Our first three-month data show a positive increase across all measurements with call times and interviews up to 21% year-on-year,” he said.

“We’ve also seen a 14% increase in sales compared to our best quarter in 2021, and the next three months already look extremely juicy.”

Although he admitted that it was much easier for his company to measure metrics than others, he said he would “argue regardless of the goals of your company, if you improve the lives of your employees while maintaining or improving your offer, why should you so not do it? ” ‘.

Dominic Chandler, from telecommunications provider Yo Telecom, explained that the company’s decision to participate in the lawsuit is twofold.

The in-house sales manager at the Southampton-based company said it was, of course, to improve productivity, but also to help with ’employee satisfaction and retention’.

“The last few years have increased the need for a focus on employee happiness and work-life balance,” Dominic added.

Yo Telecom

Telecommunications service provider Yo Telecom also participates in the trial on a four-day week (Image: Yo Telecom)

Yo Telecom

Managers hope the move will help with ’employee satisfaction and retention’ (Image: Yo Telecom)

“Burnout is very real, and if you do not prioritize the well-being of your employees, your company will not only struggle to grow financially due to poor staff performance, but it will also struggle to attract and more importantly retain great staff.”

He said he thinks the idea works as people become “more aware of their limited time in the business, so spend less time on” filling “work and allocating more of their time to their KPI relocation work”.

“We feel the company will benefit massively as our staff will be more committed and able to tackle their workload with a clearer head, which will allow them to perform to a much higher standard,” Dominic added.

Of course, it’s much easier for people who work in offices and make standard nine to five – but what about shift workers and those with more awkward working hours?

Platten’s Fish and Chips, in Wells-next-to-the-Sea, Norfolk, is interestingly one of the hospitality companies participating in the pilot project.

Director Luke Platten told Metro.co.uk: ‘After growing up in the hospitality industry, I felt like I had lost part of my youth.

Plates Fish and Chips

Platten’s Fish and Chips, based in Norfolk, is one of the hospitality companies involved in the pilot project (Image: Platten’s Fish and Chips)

Plates Fish and Chips

Director Luke Platten said he would treat the pilot ‘on an individual basis’ (Image: Platten’s Fish and Chips)

“The industry is famous for long, unsocial hours and combined with the fact that many individuals do not turn to fish and chips as a career opportunity but just a stopgap, I knew we had to change our mindset and our structure. “

He said he read about the four-day week last year and drove it past the team, but said the “real challenge would be to implement it in a seven days a week, all day, very seasonal business”.

Luke said the store launched a “two days on, two days off” watch pattern last year with great success, and now hopes to reap additional benefits from the four-day trial period.

“It is now that I want to take the lead in the hospitality sector and prove that not only is it achievable, but it is truly a win-win for all parties involved,” he explained.

Referring to the pilot as ‘productivity week’, Luke said it ‘needs to be addressed on an individual basis’.

“The thread that runs through the deal is that if you can be more productive with your time, then you will be rewarded accordingly,” he added.

‘For some, it may mean that they work five days, but that they reduce the hours they work a day.

“This works especially very well for families at school, for example.”

Get in touch with our news team by sending us an email at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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