World’s biggest 4 day working week trial hailed a success with most UK firms continuing to offer shorter weeks

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The world’s biggest ever trial of a four-day working week has been hailed as a success with most companies involved vowing to continue offering a shorter week.

For the trial, a total of 61 companies across different sectors in the UK took part in the trial which ran from June-December last year. Staff saw their working hours reduced to 32 hours per week with no reduction in wages.

Out of the 61 companies that took part, at least 56 are planning to continue operating on a four-day working week. Just three companies said they have paused the four-day working week in their organisation for the time being.

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Research for the trial was carried out by academics at the University of Cambridge and Boston College in America. The research found a four-day week resulted in a significant drop in the rates of stress and illness among the approximately 2,900 staff taking part in the trial.

Around 39% of employees said they were less stressed compared with the start of the trial and the number of sick days taken during the trial dropped by around two-thirds. The trial also saw a 57% decrease in the number of staff leaving the participating companies compared with the same period the previous year.

Levels of anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and burnout also dropped, with more staff reporting that balancing care responsibilities had become easier. Results also found that company revenue increased slightly by 1.4% on average over the trial period and increased by 35% from the same period in the previous year.

University of Cambridge professor Brendan Burchell, who led the research organised by the UK’s 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “Before the trial, many questioned whether we would see an increase in productivity to offset the reduction in working time – but this is exactly what we found.

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“Many employees were very keen to find efficiency gains themselves. Long meetings with too many people were cut short or ditched completely.

“Workers were much less inclined to kill time, and actively sought out technologies that improved their productivity. Almost everyone we interviewed described being overwhelmed with questions from other organisations in their industry that are interested in following suit.

“When we ask employers, a lot of them are convinced the four-day week is going to happen. It has been uplifting for me personally, just talking to so many upbeat people over the last six months. A four-day week means a better working life and family life for so many people.”

The findings of the four-day working week trial will be presented to MPs on Tuesday, February 21.

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