After a six-month trial, 61 participating companies saw productivity hold steady and fewer employees quit their jobs.
A 20% reduction in working time on a weekly basis without losing wages led to a significant reduction in workers’ stress levels, reduced sick days, increased employee loyalty to their employer, and clearly improved the work-life balance of people of working age. However, it did not affect the deterioration of performance.
92% of the companies that took part in the world’s largest pilot scheme have announced that they intend to continue with the four-day working week. 18 companies confirmed that they will make this change permanent.
Are we working too much? Would you work a four-day week?
— Cambridge Festival (@Cambridge_Fest) March 9, 2023
The study’s authors on the effects of the four-day working week, launched in June 2022, are scientists from the University of Cambridge and Boston College in the USA.
“We feel encouraged by the results, which showed the many ways companies were turning the four-day week from a dream into a realistic policy, with multiple benefits.” – said David Frayne, research associate at the University of Cambridge, who helped lead the team conducting employee interviews for the trial.
Industries covered by the survey represented: e-commerce, financial services, consulting, real estate, IT, cosmetics, HR, hospitality, marketing, healthcare, movies and animations, and even a local fish shop.
Some companies shut down work entirely for the three-day weekend, while others arranged shifts to cover the traditional workweek.
Throughout the experiment, quality of life reported levels of anxiety and fatigue, and mental and physical health were monitored on an ongoing basis.
The results showed that shortening the working week significantly lowered stress and illness rates among the so-called workforce. 71% of employees reported that they felt less burnout and 39% that they were less stressed compared to the previous situation.
The researchers also reported a 65% reduction in sick days and a 57% reduction in the number of employees quitting their job for other companies. At the same time, the revenues of the surveyed companies did not decrease. On the contrary – after half a year, they even slightly increased (on average by 1.4%).
Many respondents also stated that in the new situation, they could more effectively take care of children and other family members and it was easier for them to engage in social life.
Join two of the lead researchers from the largest four-day working week trial, Prof Brendan Burchell and Dr @_davidfrayne as they discuss the findings in depth: https://t.co/4av8ULws5d@CamSociology @magdalenealumni @digitcentre pic.twitter.com/uqfNjTzudB
— Cambridge Festival (@Cambridge_Fest) March 3, 2023
The pandemic changed the way the world works, with people seeking greater flexibility to improve their work-life balance.
“Before this pilot, many people wondered if the reduction in working time could be offset by increased productivity. And that’s exactly what happened (…). There was a clear change in attitudes among employees. (…) They were more actively looking for technologies that would improve their productivity.”– says the research group leader, and sociologist from the University of Cambridge, Prof. Brendan Burchell.
Author: Patrycja Bodzek-Kurzyńska