One hundred UK companies have agreed to give all of their employees a permanent four-day work week without a pay cut. This is a big step in the campaign to change the way people work in Britain in a fundamental way.
The 100 companies have a total of 2,600 employees, which is a very small part of the UK’s working population. However, the 4 Day Week Campaign hopes that these companies will be the first to make a big change.
People who like the idea of a four-day week say that the five-day pattern is a holdover from when the economy was different. They say that a four-day week would make businesses more productive, which means they could get the same work done in less time. Some of the first people to use the policy have also found that it helps them find and keep good employees.
Atom Bank and Awin, a global marketing company with about 450 employees in the UK, are the two biggest companies that have signed up. They have been given a seal of approval by the Four-Day Week Campaign, which means they have shown that they have really cut workers’ hours instead of forcing them to work longer days.
Adam Ross, the CEO of Awin, said that switching to a four-day week was “one of the most transformative initiatives we’ve seen in the company’s history.”
“Over the last year and a half, we have seen a huge improvement in the health and happiness of our employees. At the same time, our customer service and relationships, as well as our talent relations and retention, have also improved.”
The UK campaign is also in charge of coordinating the world’s largest pilot program to try out a four-day work week in about 70 companies with about 3,300 employees. Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, Boston College, and the think tank Autonomy are involved.
In a survey taken in the middle of the trial in September, 88% of those companies said that the four-day week was “working well” for their business at that point. About 95% of the businesses that were asked said that productivity had either stayed the same or gotten better since the change.
Director of the UK campaign Joe Ryle said that even though companies are getting ready for a long recession, the four-day week is becoming more popular.
“We want a four-day work week with no pay loss to be the norm in this country by the end of the decade,” he said. “So over the next few years, we plan to sign up a lot more companies.”
“Many businesses can’t afford to give pay raises that keep up with inflation of 10%, so a four-day work week with no loss of pay is being suggested as an alternative.”
Most of the companies that have officially switched to a four-day work week are in the service industry, such as technology, events, or marketing companies. But the campaign said that some employers in the construction and manufacturing industries had also signed up.
Some historians have said that the debate over the four-day week is very similar to the campaign for a two-day weekend in the 1800s.