The UK is experimenting with a 4-day workweek system with full pay, which is seeing the participation of thousands of working across sectors. The shortened workweek programme will measure the productivity and well-being of the staff for six months till December. Around 70 companies have become part of this.
Those participating in the 4-Day Week UK Pilot Programme also include academics from Oxford and Cambridge universities, as well as experts at Boston College in the US as they coordinate the experiment in partnership with the think tank Autonomy and not-for-profit coalition 4 Day Week Global.
“More than 3,300 workers, based throughout the UK and representing more than 30 sectors, are receiving 100 per cent of the pay for 80 per cent of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 per cent productivity,” the 4-Day Week Campaign said in a statement.
According to 4dayweek.co.uk, measures of productivity are very much business-to-business dependent. For some, it will be a pure revenue metric. For others, it will be the number of product units sold, the number of customers won or managed, or any other measurable success metric. The key is to ensure that, whatever the metric used, a baseline is set before embarking on a four-day week.
“The four-day week is generally considered to be a triple dividend policy helping employees, companies, and the climate. Our research efforts will be digging into all of this,” said Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College and lead researcher behind the pilot scheme, according to a PTI report.
She added that the basis of this movement is that there’s activity going on in many workplaces, particularly white-collar workplaces, that’s low-productivity and that you can cut without harming the business. Sticking to a rigid, centuries-old, time-based system doesn’t make sense.
Globally, more than 7,000 employees and 150 companies across the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand have signed up to participate in the six-month coordinated trials of the four-day working week as part of the 2022 programme.
Recently, a survey by Gartner, conducted in late April, showed that only 6 per cent of senior leaders said they are doing it or even planning that at their organisation. Instead, companies are more likely to be increasing paid time off or giving workers more flexibility on when they start and end work each day.
Companies such as Cisco and Unilever Plc have already tested it. Cisco’s test began earlier this year with employees in its human-resources department, and includes two eight-week phases. One phase included working 10-hour days, four days a week, and the second phase included getting every other Friday off. Cisco will then scour data and poll employees to see which approach worked better. Fran Katsoudas, Cisco’s chief people, policy and purpose officer, said employee participation in the test was about double what she expected, and she’s gotten inquiries from leaders in other departments about expanding it, according to a Fortune report.
Countries such as Belgium, Iceland, Scotland and Wales, Sweden and Spain are experimenting with the new system and are offering employees the opportunity to work four days a week.
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