One hundred companies in the UK have agreed to a four-day working week without losing pay in order to increase productivity, marking what has been called a major shift in the way that Brits work. The 4 Day Week Campaign Group, said the 100 companies, which employ 2,600 staff, will be the pioneer of the change despite its tiny fraction of the UK’s working population.
The campaigners argue that the five-day schedule is a “hangover” of a previous economic age. They say that a four-day week would encourage businesses to increase their production, allowing them to produce the same amount of output in fewer hours. The strategy has also shown to be an effective technique of attracting and retaining personnel for certain early adopters.
Atom Bank and global marketing firm Awin, both of which employ over 450 people in the UK, are the two largest signatories. They have been accredited by the four-day week campaign, indicating that they have genuinely decreased working hours for employees rather than forcing them to work longer days.
Speaking to The Guardian, Awin’s chief executive Adam Ross said that switching to the four-day working week was “one of the most transformative initiatives we’ve seen in the history of the company”.
He said: “Over the course of the last year and a half, we have not only seen a tremendous increase in employee wellness and wellbeing but concurrently, our customer service and relations, as well as talent relations and retention also have benefited.”
The 4 Day Week Campaign is also running the world’s largest pilot for the working pattern for approximately 70 companies employing 3,300 workers. The campaign is also organising the world’s largest pilot plan for over 70 enterprises, employing approximately 3,300 people, to embrace the four-day week in a trial with researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, Boston College, and thinktank Autonomy.
In September, 88% of those polled in the middle of the trial felt the four-day week was working “well” for their firm at the time. Approximately 95% of the organisations polled reported that productivity has either remained constant or improved following the introduction.
The UK campaign’s head, Joe Ryle, said there was growing momentum in the adoption of the four-day week, even as businesses braced for a long recession. He said: “We want to see a four-day week with no loss of pay become the normal way of working in this country by the end of the decade so we are aiming to sign up many more companies over the next few years.”