The 4-day week: does it actually work

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The 4-day week: does it actually work? A trial to gauge whether it is possible to do the same work in fewer hours is finally drawing to a close. Here’s what four companies discovered © Charlie Bibby | Charmaine Clavier-St John, head of people at Hutch gaming The 4-day week: does it actually work? on twitter (opens in a new window) The 4-day week: does it actually work? on facebook (opens in a new window) The 4-day week: does it actually work? on linkedin (opens in a new window) Save current progress 12% Emma Jacobs in Wells-next-the-Sea DECEMBER 3 2022 154 Print this page Receive free Work-life balance updates We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest Work-life balance news every morning. Five years ago, Wyatt Watts arrived for his first day of work at Platten’s in Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk, east England. “It felt like a challenge,” he reflects, dealing with the “fast pace” of a fish-and-chip shop packed with hungry day-trippers. On a sunny morning this summer, Watts, now a team leader, was preparing for a new test. The 26-year-old was worried his work was about to become more intense and stressful. Yet he was determined to make it a success. For if he could squeeze his 40-hour week into just 32 hours — cleaning the stainless steel kitchen, preparing mushy peas and the batter while fulfilling his management responsibilities — he would receive full pay and more free time. Platten’s is one of 70 companies, encompassing 3,300 employees, who signed up to the UK trial of the four-day week, running from June to December 6. It is spearheaded by 4 Day Week Global, a non-profit organisation founded by Andrew Barnes, a New Zealand entrepreneur who implemented a four-day week in his own financial services company Perpetual Guardian, after a trial in 2018. Wyatt Watts, team leader at Platten’s chip shop, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. ‘The hours . . .  weren’t as long as what they used to be, so I still felt like I had free time’ © Si Barber/FT Researchers at Cambridge university, Boston College and Oxford university will measure the impact of a shorter week on productivity and wellbeing. Parallel pilots running in Ireland and the US, comprising 33 companies and 903 employees, show signs of promise. A report by 4 Day Week Global found that “physical and mental health . . . work-life balance and satisfaction increased.” While revenues rose about 8 per cent over the trial, “absenteeism was reduced and resignations declined slightly”. Interest in the four-day week has been gathering momentum. Last year, Unilever’s New Zealand operations switched to four days, recently extending it to Australia. In the UK, Atom Bank last year introduced a 34-hour week. While in Belgium, workers won the right to compress five days into four. The trial was forged in the aftermath of the pandemic which forced largely white-collar workers t

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