Four-day work week could be the norm by 2030

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Date: 2 August 2022

Two colleagues leaving work at the end of a four-day working week

New research has found that the majority of employers, employees and recruiters expect that a four-day week will be in place in just eight years for most workers.

A study by NatWest Rapid Cash, looking at the employment challenges facing recruiters and small businesses, has concluded that offering higher wages cannot be the only way for companies to fill their vacancies.

Its findings show that while health and wellbeing benefits continue to be valued by employees, it is flexible working arrangements that are most appreciated by workers and the idea of a four-day week at full pay is one of the most appealing perks of all.

The survey has found that 78% of employers, 70% of employees and 79% of recruiters expect that a four-day week, with no loss of pay, will be in place by 2030. According to recruiters polled, the main benefits of a four-day week are:

  • Happier employees (80%);
  • More flexibility for staff (73%);
  • Increased employee retention (56%).

Employers are also positive about the impact of a four-day week, with 68% saying that they expect it to positively impact productivity. However, only 25% of 500 SME employers surveyed currently offer a four-day work week and one-third said they don't intend to offer a four-day week unless they have to.

A new trial of the four-day week started in early June this year, organised by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with UK think tank Autonomy. More than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies have started working a four-day week with no loss of pay. Similar trials are currently taking place in Ireland, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The trial is based on a 100:80:100 model - 100% of pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintaining 100% productivity. According to research by 4 Day Week Global, 63% of businesses find it easier to attract and retain talent with a four-day week.

A study by Work.Life has also found that working less hours does make employees more productive and less stressed. Its analysis shows that:

  • Working more than 50 hours per week harms productivity;
  • The four-day working week has made 91% of employees happier;
  • 27% of employees say they have seen a reduction in workplace stress;
  • 79% of employees say the introduction of the four-day week has improved their mental health.

Trials by individual companies support the findings. Microsoft Japan saw a 40% productivity boost and Buffer found that 91% of employees were happier and more productive with four-day weeks. However, the findings also show that 72% of employees admit that a four-day week results in working more hours on working days to make up for the lost day.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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