EDU FIT The world's biggest four-day work week trial is changing people's lives

canning

Super Moderator
Oct 31, 2001
55,157

How the world's biggest four-day work week trial run changed people's lives

Workers are fed up.

More than two years into the pandemic, many have burned out, quit their jobs or are struggling to make ends meet as record inflation takes a huge bite out of their paychecks.

But, for the past eight weeks, thousands of people in the United Kingdom have tested a four-day schedule — with no cut to their pay — that could help usher in a new era of work.

It's the world's biggest trial of a four-day work week so far. Already, some workers have said they feel happier, healthier and are doing better in their jobs.

'LIFE CHANGING'

Lisa Gilbert, a lending services manager at Charity Bank, an ethical loans provider in the southwest of England, describes her new routine as "phenomenal."

"I can really enjoy my weekend now because I've got my Friday for my chores and my other bits and pieces or... if I just want to take my mum out for a walk I can do that now without feeling guilty,"she told CNN Business.

Gilbert cares for her son and two elderly parents. The extra day off a week means she no longer has to collect her groceries at 6 o'clock on a Saturday morning, and she can devote more time to her family.

"I find that I'm saying 'yes we can' as opposed to 'no sorry we can't,'" she said.

The six-month pilot commits 3,300 workers across 70 companies to work 80% of their usual week in exchange for promising to maintain 100% of their productivity.

The program is being run by not-for-profit 4 Day Week Global, Autonomy, a think tank, and the 4 Day Week UK Campaign in partnership with researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.

Researchers will measure the impact the new working pattern will have on productivity levels, gender equality, the environment as well as worker well-being. At the end of November, companies can decide whether or not to stick with the new schedule.

But, for Gilbert, the verdict is already in: it's been "life changing," she said.

'GENUINELY CHAOTIC'

The transition has not been without its hiccups, though.

Samantha Losey, managing director at Unity, a public relations agency in London, told CNN Business that the first week was "genuinely chaotic," with her team unprepared for the shorter work handovers.

"To be totally honest with you, those first two weeks — really a mess. We were all over the shop. I thought I'd made a huge error. I didn't know what I was doing," she said.

But her team quickly found ways to make it work. Now, the company has banned all internal meetings longer than five minutes, keeps all client meetings to 30 minutes and has introduced a "traffic light" system to prevent unnecessary disturbances — colleagues have a light on their desk, and set it to 'green' if they are happy to talk, 'amber' if they are busy but available to speak, and 'red' if they do not want to be interrupted.

By the fourth week, Losey said, her team had hit their stride, but admits there is "absolutely" a possibility she could reinstate a five-day schedule if productivity levels drop over the course of the six-month trial.

"There's a good 25% chance that we won't get to keep it, but the team so far are fighting incredibly hard for it," she said.

'LIKE A LIBRARY'

Until last month, Iceland had conducted the world's biggest pilot of a four-day work week. Between 2015 and 2019, the country put 2,500 of its public sector workers through two trials.

Crucially, those trials found no corresponding drop in productivity — and a dramatic increase in employee well-being.

Gary Conroy, founder and CEO of 5 Squirrels, a skincare product manufacturer on England's south coast, has brought in "deep work time" to ensure his employees remain productive.

For two hours every morning, and two hours every afternoon, Conroy's staff ignores emails, calls or Teams messages and concentrates on their projects.

"The whole place goes like a library, and everybody just gets their head down and smashes through the work," he said.

People spend most of their day on 'busywork' — or work for work's sake — according to a survey of 10,600 workers by Asana last September. The software company found that the workers in the United States spend about 58% of their day on activities such as answering emails and attending meetings, rather than the work they were hired for.

Conroy said meetings at the company used to be a "talking shop," but are now capped at 30 minutes, and only permitted in the two hours outside of 'deep work time.'

The results have exceeded everyone's expectations.

"[The team] started realizing that they were smashing projects that they had always put on the back burner," Conroy said.

'FIT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY'

The extra day has made space for many workers to take up new hobbies, fulfill longstanding ambitions, or simply invest more time in their relationships.

Workers on the trial have taken up cooking classes, piano lessons, volunteering, fishing and rollerskating, their bosses told CNN Business.

For Emily Morrison, an account director at Unity who has battled anxiety for much of her adult life, the benefits have been more fundamental.

"Having more downtime and less 'Sunday scaries' over the weekend has helped improve my mental health and approach the week with a more positive attitude, rather than coming in stressed," she told CNN Business.

More than two years into the pandemic, scores of workers have reached their limit. A McKinsey survey of 5,000 global workers last year found that nearly half reported feeling at least somewhat burned out.

Losey said a major reason she decided to enroll Unity into the pilot was to compensate for the "extraordinary level of burnout" her staff faced during the worst of the pandemic.

Mark Howland, Charity Bank's director of marketing and communications, told CNN Business that he uses his day off to improve his health and fitness.

He has always wanted to compete in a triathlon, but has felt guilty spending time away from his family to train. Not anymore.

"With my day off I've been going on quite long bike rides, looking after myself, taking some time out and then having the whole weekend to get things done around the house and to spend time with family," Howland said.

The bank is unlikely to go back to the way things were.

"The five-day working week is a 20th century concept, which is no longer fit for the 21st century," he said.
 

jrmcm

Cocaine and cocaine accessories
Oct 9, 2001
72,068
Plano, TX
10hF13I.gif
 

amalgamas

OT Supporter
Jan 7, 2007
93,790
Somewhere, AZ
it would be highly unusual for North American society to change in a way that benefits workers
When not given a choice it's amazing how many positive changes can be made. :mamoru:

My C-Suite was thinking about forcing IT to come back into the office but fully 20% said they'd walk if they were even asked to do a dedicated 60/40 home/work split shift.

So now officially in writing and in practice we are full remote but with touchdown stations available in office for "collaborative sessions" if people decide to use them. :rofl:

In the last meeting they've also changed the policy so that we can only work out of state for 2 weeks a year to 3 months a year, in the words of the CFO "If you're able to complete your deliverables I'm not going to fight with you over you doing them from the beach".
 

mdaniel

S is for Shiksa
May 6, 2000
62,110
NW Mejicooooooo
If you can cut everyone's hours 20% and see no drop in productivity, doesn't that suggest you're overstaffed to begin with? My wife works for the county and they're perpetually understaffed, especially with all the sickies losing days. They occasionally work voluntary overtime to make a dent in stuff they can't get to during the week Giving everyone Friday off wouldn't help.
 
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Nikuk

This simulation needs a reboot
OT Supporter
Jun 24, 2005
15,065
Buffalo, NY. Again.
If you can cut everyone's hours 20% and see no drop in productivity, doesn't that suggest you're overstaffed to begin with? My wife works for the county and they're perpetually understaffed, especially with all the sickies losing days. They occasionally work voluntary overtime to make a dent in stuff they can't get to during the week Giving everyone Friday off wouldn't help.
Nearly every single study over the last 20 years, and there have been many, has shown that 5 to 4 shows a significant increase in productivity, throughput, and / or output.

IOW, Okay Boomer.
 

TheEvil1

Hell is other people
OT Supporter
Jul 4, 2003
14,233
BFE NY
If you can cut everyone's hours 20% and see no drop in productivity, doesn't that suggest you're overstaffed to begin with? My wife works for the county and they're perpetually understaffed, especially with all the sickies losing days. They occasionally work voluntary overtime to make a dent in stuff they can't get to during the week Giving everyone Friday off wouldn't help.
you stagger it for 1/2 are off friday and the other 1/2 monday so you always have a full weeks coverage

it causes people to work more during a given day vs push stuff off till later
 
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majesty

OT Supporter
Jun 6, 2003
15,464
🌍
Would never happen across the board in America. The rich have an ironclad grip on us around here.

Some companies are already doing this, but I could never see this becoming the de facto standard.

I wish we could get this enshrined in law though, for all industries.
 

01ACRViper

Official OT LOTR Guru......... Spurs >*
Jul 12, 2001
80,932
Dallas
4x10s was a great schedule and I really miss it

when I was underground we also did 8 on 6 off, 4 on 3 off (10 hour days). by day 7 you're fucking done, but 6 days off without using PTO is super nice.
 

mdaniel

S is for Shiksa
May 6, 2000
62,110
NW Mejicooooooo
you stagger it for 1/2 are off friday and the other 1/2 monday so you always have a full weeks coverage

it causes people to work more during a given day vs push stuff off till later

So they're basically overstaffed. That is, people are working 5 days but only have 4 days (or less) of actual work do to. Given 4 days, they fuck off less and do 4 days of work in 4 instead of 5.
 

DasVWBabe

OT's Diamond and Gemstone Tutorial Creator
OT Supporter
Sep 25, 2002
61,290
Frisconia
The meetings are what eat up time. We've instituted zero meeting Fridays. We also have zero physical locations in my state so completely remote. They keep screwing with this though as I have had a meeting at 8 am every Friday for the past month or so.

Husband's company has been giving them summer hours (half-day Fridays) for the past 21 years and he's way fucking happier than me. :rofl::hs:
 
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canning

canning

Super Moderator
Oct 31, 2001
55,157
If I didn't have excessive meetings, I could probably be just as productive in a 3 day work week working maybe 6-8 hours per day.
That was one of the areas of focus for these transitions. Reduce the time for internal meeting to 5 mins max and 30 mins for external meetings.
 
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T_Dawgg

Escape Goat
May 6, 2001
35,656
vancity
I work 5 days from home but I actually nap on the couch all day Monday and then leave early Friday so im basically at a 3.5 day work week

thank you and god bless
 

Dodgers

2020 World Series Champions
OT Supporter
Mar 9, 2005
21,439
San Diego
I can't imagine a day that the stock market would only be open 4 days a week. Meanwhile, I'm sure ppl said the same thing 100 years ago about not being able to imagine it only being open 5 days a week. It would be gigantic if the finance and banking industry cut off a complete day of work.
 

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