One year on from the start of the world’s biggest trial of the four-day working week taking place in the UK, we have the results: success on all fronts. So what are we waiting for?
The majority of weeks in May have been four-day work weeks – although one was overshadowed by that pesky coronation – thanks to a succession of Bank Holidays. It’s got the public thinking the government need to stop being such little teases and commit to the four-day working week. Don’t introduce us to a vibe you can’t maintain!
Groups such as the 4 Day Week Campaign are canvassing for a 32-hour work week, with no loss of pay, to benefit workers, employers, and society.
The benefits of the four-day week are (almost) endless: Better work-life balance, with time for rest, sleep, and plain-old life admin, reduced unemployment, reduced carbon footprint, health benefits, and so on.
People need this. The strikes we have seen over the last year show that people are sick and tired of poor working conditions. Taking serious action to reduce burnout and overwork in the population is as good of a place to start as any.
And for any of you nerds worrying about economic “productivity” (boring!) – do not fret. The six-month trial last year showed no drop in participating companies’ productivity, and 92% of them planned to continue with the system beyond the trial.
They give us 100% of the pay, in return for us giving them 100% of the usual productivity – but in 80% of the time.
Don’t tell the government, but there might even be room for compromise if it comes down to it. James Glover works in accommodation services in Sheffield, doing a 40-hour week in just four days – but with four days off following each shift pattern.
“I would rather work those ten-hour shifts, even for three days off, over a typical 9-5,” he says. “It gives me so much more flexibility with travelling and seeing friends, and I get more of a mental break from the working days.
“On a typical Saturday-Sunday weekend, you’re always one day away from work, and can’t fully relax.”
We invented the weekend a century ago (excuse the use of the ‘royal we’, I didn’t do shit) – and we are long overdue for an upgrade to our working hours. What is the point of automating 1.5m jobs and increasing productivity if the workers can’t reap the benefits?