Thousands of workers in the United Kingdom embarked Monday on a six-month long trial run of the four-day workweek – the largest program of its kind to date, involving a total of 70 companies and over 3,000 employees, according to the BBC. All test participants will continue to receive the same salaries they made working five days a week.
The experiment was organized in part by not-for-profit 4 Day Week Global, and will be conducted by research teams from Cambridge and Oxford Universities, Boston College, and Autonomy, a think tank that focuses on the impact of work on a person’s overall health and wellbeing.
“After the pandemic, people want a work-life balance,” said Joe Ryle, a campaign director at 4 Day Week Global. “They want to be working less.”
A variety of industries are included in the trial, ranging from public relations firms to tech companies, financial services, and even a fish and chips restaurant. Researcher and Boston College sociology professor Juliet Schor described the program’s focus on employee efficiency and quality of life during and after the experiment.
“We’ll be analyzing how employees respond to having an extra day off, in terms of stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, health, sleep, energy use, travel and many other aspects of life,” Schor said.
New Zealand’s University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology ran a similar test over the course of eight weeks in 2018, after which 78 percent of participating employees reported a positive work-life balance, compared to 54 percent before the trial. Between 2015-2019, Iceland also conducted two shortened workweek experiments with workers in the public sector, whose productivity remained steady despite the reduction in their hours.