The UK has begun the world’s largest 4-day work week trial. Over the next six months, 70 companies will adopt the new work pattern. All workers involved will receive 100 percent of their previous pay, but with the added bonus of an extra day of freedom.
The scheme is organized by researchers from Oxford and Cambridge Universities plus the group Autonomy, who campaign for a shorter work week. Those participating hope the altered hours will increase productivity despite the reduction in hours, in line with multiple trials previously.
"The pandemic's made us think a great deal about work and how people organise their lives," said Sam Smith, co-founder of Pressure Drop Brewery in Tottenham, one of the companies taking part, in a statement to the BBC.
"We're doing this to improve the lives of our staff and be part of a progressive change in the world that will improve people's mental health and wellbeing."
The country-wide experiment will include around 3,000 workers, which could have resounding implications for UK companies should it succeed. While a 4-day week is not for everyone, nor is it possible in some industries, an increase in productivity and employee happiness seems like a win-win for most workplaces. It remains to be seen whether employers would take to the idea, however.