A major test of the 4-day workweek is now underway. Supporters think it can help productivity: NPR

More than 3,300 UK workers are taking part in the largest four-day workweek pilot programme. The trial will last six months as researchers track how people respond to an extra day off.

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More than 3,300 UK workers are taking part in the largest four-day workweek pilot programme. The trial will last six months as researchers track how people respond to an extra day off.

Justin Thales/AFP via Getty Images

Over the next six months, thousands of people across the UK will be working 32 hours a week in Biggest pilot four day work week the world has ever seen.

The trial involves more than 3,300 people at 70 companies in areas ranging from healthcare to local fish and chip shops. It is being placed in 4 Day Week Global, the 4 Day Week campaign, UK-based research foundation Autonomy, and researchers at the University of Cambridge, Oxford University and Boston College.

The idea is very simple. Workers earn the same amount they do for 40 hours a week, but they only work 80% of the time. In exchange for fewer working hours, workers are obligated to maintain the productivity they would need in a five-day work week.

Calls have increased to 32 hours a week, especially as so many people around the world face burnout from the pandemic.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are realizing that the new frontier of competition is quality of life, and that working reduced hours and focusing on production is a way to give them a competitive advantage,” Joe O’Connor, CEO of 4 Day Week Global, He said in a statement.

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“The effect of the ‘big quit’ is now proving that workers from a variety of industries can achieve better results while working shorter and smarter,” he said.

The results of the 32-hour workweek is something Will Strong, Autonomy’s Director of Research, focuses on. Stronge, who is also a co-author of Overtime: why we need a shorter work week, He told NPR’s life kit Last year’s podcast says the five-day workweek is outdated in some ways and leads to something he calls overtime creep into our personal lives.

“Our work culture has changed into one where it is a lot more about going above and beyond – working after hours either for better career prospects or simply because your boss is asking you to,” he said. “Now, during the pandemic, you’re in the living room with your laptop. So it’s hard to stop this creep that has crept into our work lives.”

If people got an extra day off, Strong said, many would say they would take care of personal errands or spend more time with family and friends.

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If people got an extra day off, Strong said, many would say they would take care of personal errands or spend more time with family and friends.

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Stronge argued that a shorter work week would be better for people’s mental health and might increase productivity.

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“For many organizations, what you lose in working time, you gain more productivity on the job,” he said. “We can’t focus all the time, especially if you’re overworked and burnout. So reducing the workweek has paid dividends in terms of productivity and workers’ well-being, which means they come to work refreshed. They come to work and they want their work a little bit more and they want to Kind of get the work done so they can have a fun weekend etc.”

Researchers will measure any changes in productivity

As the large pilot project begins in the UK, productivity is one area that researchers will focus on.

Juliet Shore, professor of sociology at Boston College, said in a statement.

Although it was at least six months before the final results were revealed to the British pilot, a similar experiment by Microsoft Japan in 2019 increased productivity by 40%. Earlier, a New Zealand company testing four days for weeks reported a 20% increase in employee productivity in 2018.

Experiments in Iceland for 2,500 workers between 2015 and 2019 found that productivity remained the same or improved In most cases.

And in terms of the extra weekend day people pick up, Stronge said a lot of people say they’d take the extra day off to get personal tasks done or spend more time with their friends and family.

It makes a huge difference,” Strong said. “And so I think it should – it’s going to be a bit of a game changer.”

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