Friday water cooler: Would you try the four-day workweek at your company?

The four-day workweek’s biggest trial yet started eight weeks ago in the UK.
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Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

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Consider this equal-parts radical and not-so-crazy question: What would happen if the work week were cut from five days to four? Would markets crash, giving rise to a dystopian landscape of once-diligent workers who now flout all responsibility, brazenly doing crossword puzzles with 20% more free time at their disposal?

If the UK’s four-day workweek trial is any indication, the paradigm may prove more serene than cataclysmic for workers: The six-month pilot, which began in June, involves 3,300 workers across 70 companies and is being conducted in conjunction with 4 Day Week Global, the UK’s 4 Day Week campaign, think-tank Autonomy, and researchers at Cambridge and Oxford Universities and Boston College. All workers are being paid their full wages and are required to maintain their typical productivity levels.

So far, it has produced many positives for participants: Lisa Gilbert, a lending services manager at Charity Bank, told CNN Business that the extra day provides ample space for caretaking duties: “I can really enjoy my weekend now because I’ve got my Friday for my chores and my other bits and pieces, or...if I just want to take my mum out for a walk, I can do that now without feeling guilty.”

The reduced week has induced growing pains for some—London PR agency Unity was “genuinely chaotic” during the first two weeks of the trial, the firm’s managing director, Samantha Losey, told CNN Business. But the company learned to navigate the new setup by cutting down on meetings, among other strategies.

Oh, yes, there’s a mental health dimension, too: Unity’s account director Emily Morrison said the increased downtime has helped her improve her mental health and “approach the week with a more positive attitude.”

Hey, you. Yes, YOU, there in the back. Is this four-day workweek noise a sweet serenade or an untuned violin played by an aggressive third grader? Last year, various experts explained to HR Brew how four-day weeks and other alternative schedules could help with retention without hurting productivity.

Join the discussion on HR Brew’s LinkedIn page, or reply to this email with your thoughts.—SB

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HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.