Home » The Long-Term Impact of the Four-Day Work Week: A Year After the Largest Trial

The Long-Term Impact of the Four-Day Work Week: A Year After the Largest Trial

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The Long-Term Impact of the Four-Day Work Week: A Year After the Largest Trial

A year after the world‘s largest trial of a four-day working week concluded, a large majority of companies taking part were still allowing their employees to work a shorter week and more than half had made the change permanent.

For six months, between June and December 2022, workers at 61 organizations in the UK worked 80% of their usual hours, at the same pay, in exchange for committing to deliver 100% of their usual work.

At least 89% of those companies still maintained the policy and at least 51% had made the four-day work week permanent by the end of 2023, according to a report published by one of the trial’s organizers. Two companies did not respond to researchers compiling the report.

The study was published this Wednesday by Autonomy, a group of experts that carried out the 2022 trial with the non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global and the 4 Day Week UK campaign in collaboration with researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and Boston College.

The effects of reduced working hours have been overwhelmingly beneficial for staff and their businesses, the report said.

At the end of the trial, employees reported enjoying better physical and mental health, greater work-life balance, and overall life satisfaction and less burnout. These improvements have been maintained a year later.

“The key point is that the strong findings at six months are not due to novelty or short-term impacts. These effects are real and long-lasting,” said Juliet Schor, a professor of sociology at Boston College, who surveyed staff at the companies that participated in the trial.

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Managers and CEOs from 28 of the organizations also agreed to answer additional questions. They all said the four-day work week had had a positive impact on their business. Staff turnover fell in half of organizations, almost a third said the policy had markedly improved recruitment and 82% reported beneficial effects on staff wellbeing.

Autonomy’s report also highlights methods organizations have used to maintain a four-day work week, including reviewing rules around meetings, work communications and prioritization.

“It has become clear from this study that the four-day working week is not just a fad: businesses across the UK have managed to ‘make it work’,” the authors wrote.

About half of the 61 organizations that participated in the 2022 trial are in the marketing and advertising, professional services, and nonprofit sectors. The remainder span a variety of industries, including construction, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and arts and entertainment.

Calls to shorten the work week have multiplied in recent years. These calls have increased after millions of employees shifted to remote work during the pandemic and stopped traveling, saving time and money.

There have been several experiments with the four-day work week around the world, including a trial in 2022 at 33 companies, with most workers based in the United States and Ireland.

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