Results from the world’s largest 4-day work week trial have recently been published. The results have the potential to change our normal working week as we know it.


The evolution of our work week

Following the industrial revolution, labour union groups and activists campaigned to improve working conditions. This consequently led to the introduction of the 8-hour day established in the mining industry. This later trickled down into other industries until it became the standard in Britain. 

The standard routine of 9am to 5:30pm, 5 days a week, has been a part of most people’s careers for as long as can be remembered. In addition, fatigue and burnout have also become commonplace and accepted as part of working 9-5:30pm, 5 days a week.

This way of working was forced to evolve with the COVID-19 pandemic. Very quickly companies had to accommodate for a new way of life for their employees, by implementing hybrid and remote working models. Along with more flexible working hours for some. This brought to light employee wellbeing, as well as strong emphasis on employer trust for their teams while working remotely. However, once the pandemic began to ease up and offices started to open up again, many people struggled to go back to the pre-pandemic working structure. This began to open up the discussion: what does the work week look like in a post-pandemic world?

A Post COVID World

With the Great Resignation starting in 2021 as well as a greater focus on wellbeing at work, employees began to prioritise wellbeing and benefits in the workplace. In the pandemic, many people realised how important health and wellbeing is, and also that it is possible to work and stay productive despite not being in the office everyday, or working the same hours as before.

With the old working week evolving through the pandemic to more hybrid and remote options, this is now seen for many as the new normal. Many employees will now only take a new position if hybrid working is an option. 59% of employees say they would consider another company if they offer better wellbeing benefits. Giving employees the option to work around their life schedules or change to hybrid or remote options enables employees to be Full On when they are working and to be more productive. This is beneficial to both – the company and employees.

The 4-day Work Week Trial 

The UK trial was the world’s largest four-day working week trial to date. 61 companies were involved and around 2,900 workers participated in the trial which took place from June to December.

So what were the results of the 4-day work week?:

  • One in four workers felt less stressed
  • 50% were more satisfied with their jobs 
  • The trial made it easier for 62% of workers to balance their job with their social life
  • 71% of workers reported lower levels of burnout 
  • Sick days were down by 65%
  • Their average revenue rose by 1.4%
  • The time male workers spent looking after their children rose by 27%, compared with a 13%  increase in time female participants

The benefits…

  • Gains in Diversity, Equality & Inclusion; more people can apply for roles they may not have been able to before, as the 4-day work week is flexible for different types of lifestyles
  • Cost savings to the individual; people are able to save money on childcare
  • People save money by not having to commute into the office 1 day out of the week
  • Wellbeing; there are less sick days and more downtime, delivering Full On rest
  • Improved work life balance; more time to spend with family and friends or hobbies
  • Increased revenue; there isn’t a trade-off between working less days and company performance, you can achieve both

Other Opinions

Following the publication of the trial results, it has opened up the conversation to explore what it would look like if a 4-day work week were to be rolled out in more companies around the UK and the globe. The benefits of the trial outweighed the cons for many businesses and people. However, not everyone believes this 4-day work week should become mainstream. For example, the healthcare or hospitality industries do not have the luxury to adjust their working week so drastically. There is the argument of a shorter work week vs. more time to get work done in the week with a 5 day week. Many people believe that condensing their work week to 4 days would apply greater pressure to the days they are working. This could potentially mean people would be working 1 less day but having longer hours. 

What does this mean for the future of the work week?

Despite different opinions for whether or not the 4-day work week should become mainstream, the positive benefits cannot be ignored. The trial has provided another way in which employers can support the wellbeing of their employees at work. As well as offering them a competitive advantage in the recruitment process to hire and retain the best talent. 92% of companies who were part of the 6-month trial are keeping the 4-day week and this trend could continue once other companies see that is both possible and sustainable. Would you want your company to offer a 4-day work week or do you prefer the standard 5-day week?