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By LegalEdge News

4ugust – will you try the 4-day week this summer?

The 4 Day Week Campaign is encouraging businesses to test the four-day same salary week this August – it’s called the 4ugust trial.  

Some well-known companies such as PWC, ASOS and Kellogg’s have already introduced reduced summer hours.

A case study, close to home

We’re delighted to hear that our own design agency, SOKA Studio, have successfully trialled a 4-day (same pay) week over the last few months.

Founder, Sophie Green, admitted she was hesitant at first but says,

“… the whole team have reported feeling more energized, focused, alert and creative…. it has also led to noticeable improvements in our studio’s collective weekly output…. Attention to detail, quality of initial design concepts and the efficiency of working has all approved — as has the monthly turnover and profit.”

SOKA’s trial will continue for the next three months before a decision on any permanent change is made.

4-day week: the story so far….

The biggest ever global trial of the 4-day working week took place in 2022. In the UK, around 70 employers joined the pilot which saw staff work less hours with no loss of pay. See our blog: what does the 4-day week mean for employers?

Half-way through, employers were asked about their experiences and responses were largely positive. See ourblog: the half time results are in and it’s a win-win.  

The final report on the results in the UK was published in February 2023 and found ‘extensive benefits,’ particularly when it came to staff well-being. Further new evidence countered concerns that previous success stories were down to novelty and couldn’t be sustained in the longer term.

The Times and the BBC reported that a 4-day working week made staff happier and less stressed, reduced staff absence and turnover, aided recruitment and did not appear to be detrimental to productivity. 

Most employers on the pilot scheme said they would be keeping their 4-day weeks, with a few saying they would continue with a trial period. 

4-day week can be controversial

Local councils in England have been told not to implement a 4-day week by the government as, “it does not believe that it delivers local taxpayers value for money”. Cambridgeshire County Council was ordered to stop its 4-day week trial after residents were unhappy at the reduction in refuse collection services caused by the loss of a fifth working day. 

This demonstrates the importance of effective communication before changes to working patterns, to reassure customers regarding service levels, etc.

In addition, some staff have rejected a 4-day week, because fewer working hours leads to them feeling morepressure to complete their work and meet targets in a shorter time. 

This is an important reminder that the 4-day week will not be right for all businesses, or for all individuals. It is also a reminder that it needs careful management, so that staff understand what’s expected of them and when. 

The benefits of the 4-day week

Many businesses, however, notice that staff get more work done in less time and work more productivity with a 4-day week. 

Brendan Burchell, a professor at the University of Cambridge who led the original 4-day week research, explains the possible reasons for this: 

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.”

Is the 4-day working week here to stay or will it be a short-lived experiment? 

With the issue provoking strong views on each side of the debate, businesses need to tread carefully before embarking on changes to staff working patterns. 

The jury is out on whether the 4-day week will be widely adopted, but the 4ugust campaign is a good chance for businesses to test the water.  

How can we help?

Are you interested in trialling a 4-day week, or other alternative working patterns? Or do you need to change working patterns that you have been trialling? Get in touch if you want to talk through how this might work for your business and how we can help. Also, check out our HR Legal service for more information on how we can help with implementing changes (both temporary and permanent).

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