A 4-Day Work Week Could Work for Everybody, Experiment Shows

A pilot experiment in the United Kingdom tests the effectiveness of a four-day work week.

It sounds too good to be true for Americans who often work long hours and more than five days a week to make ends meet. But it could well become a reality in the not-so-distant future.

Because the study showed that, contrary to widespread concerns, the four-day work week did not lower productivity.

In the trial involving 70 companies across Britain, workers work for four days and get a paid day off during the week.

Forty-one companies responded to a survey of the experiment, and 35 of those said they were “likely” or “extremely likely” to continue the four-day work week after the trial ended.

All but two of the companies who responded said that productivity had either stayed the same or improved. And incredibly, six companies said productivity had significantly improved.

It flies in the face of traditional work wisdom, which says the longer hours workers put in, the more work they do. But now we know that time off is vital – and paid time off is perfect for morale.

Workers with three days to recharge and reset and who aren’t worried about losing the money from that fifth day turn out to be dedicated employees who want to work harder when they’re in the office – imagine that.

The concept of the four-day work week has been around since the days of Nixon, who once said he saw it on the “not too distant horizon,” but as wages stayed stagnant and workdays got longer, no relief materialized for workers. That may soon change.

The pandemic proved that workers don’t have to drive themselves to an early grave for a buck; they can find employment where they can thrive, and places offering four days plus one paid day may soon find themselves with competing applicants, whereas more traditional workplaces find themselves with crickets. Burn-out is being recognized as a real and present danger for workers, one that could land employers in dire straits if they don’t adjust to the new landscape. But the experiment provides a remedy.

The experiment has been repeated in other countries, including parts of the US, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden – with the same results.

Is a four-day work week coming soon to a job near you? Sounds like a dream come true.


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