One year on: four-day working week pilot in UK proves a success

Nine out of ten of the organisations that participated in the UK’s largest ever pilot of the four-day working week have retained the policy one year on, according to new research

What happened to the companies which participated in the great UK four-day week pilot? This was a six-month trial in which 61 UK organisations committed to a four-day working week with no drop in salary for employees.

The pilot completed at the beginning of 2023. One year on, Autonomy Research has published findings that give an insight into the longer-term success of the scheme.

A permanent change?

Of the 61 organisations that took part in the scheme, at least 54 (89 per cent) have confirmed that the four-day work week policy is still in place one year later. What’s more, at least 31 of these companies have adopted the four-day week as a permanent fixture in their organisation – 51 per cent of all participating companies.

This commitment to the continuation of the more flexible model echoes the results that the initial post-trial survey showed, where 56 companies stated that they intended to continue with the four-day working week.

Does this commitment to the four-day working week herald the three-day weekend? The results look promising, with 31 participating companies (51 per cent) proposing to make the change to a four-day working week permanent. This is a marked change from the initial results of the immediate post-trial survey, when only 18 companies confirmed they would seek to establish it as permanent change.

Organisational benefits

The survey revealed that all of the managers and CEOs consulted believed that the introduction of the four-day week had either a ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ impact on their organisations. These positive impacts manifested themselves in various ways, from an increase in staff wellbeing to a reduction in staff turnover. Also noted was that the recruitment process for new hires was positively impacted.

Employees from 47 of the pilot organisations were able to shed some light on how staff wellbeing has been improved. At the close of the original pilot, it was noted that reductions in burnout, better work-life balance, and improvements in both mental and physical health were some of the key takeaways from the scheme. A year on, employees confirm that this had remained the case, and add that it is more prevalent in organisations where the four-day week is firmly in place.

Staff in organisations where the additional day off was not wholly guaranteed, or was conditional on making certain targets, left employees concerned about the policy.

Looking to the four-day future

As of the beginning of 2024, the 4 Day Week Campaign in the UK has seen a 32 per cent increase in the number of accredited organisations in just one year. There are now 152 official four-day week employers.

What does this mean for the popularity and longevity of the four-day working week? The success of the trial would suggest that the future is bright. The policy in the UK is more popular than ever and beginning to gain traction in other European countries.

Read the full Autonomy Research report, ‘Making it stick: The UK four-day week pilot one year on’, here.

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