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UK trials four-day work week for wellbeing

Words by Smiley Team

Thousands of UK workers are working a four-day week at 100% of their usual pay, starting 6 June 2022.

The experiment, involving 70 companies across the nation, will last six months. During this time, employees will continue being paid as though they are working their usual five day week, but will only be working four.

This comes off the back of similar experiments in Spain and Japan which took place in 2021. Microsoft was one of the companies which implemented the trial in Japan, and saw a 40% increase in productivity.

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"A five-day work week was never something that was unchangeable or immutable," said Robert Bird, a professor at the University of Connecticut, to the Washington Post

The idea of the four-day week was originally floated back in the 1970s, though it eventually lost momentum and was forgotten about.

Now, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic – which made huge changes not only to the job market, but also to the way people work – the idea is becoming popular once more.

A balanced life for positive wellbeing

By switching the work week to four days on/three days off, rather than five days on/two days off, we experience a more balanced week – and life. This is important because it can help prevent burnout: by limiting the time you're required to spend in work, but not lowering pay, people in the UK will no longer have to choose between money and their wellbeing. 

For parents and carers, it means not having to pay an extra day for outside care, as well as being able to spend more time with their dependents.

Young professionals will get more time to develop rounded social lives, and those on the other end of the age bracket will be able to think about winding down to retirement, without losing the benefits of moving from full to part time work.

One thing's for sure, there are boundless benefits to our health and wellbeing to the four-day week. And if countries across the globe, from New Zealand to Russia, are experimenting, there may well be permanent change on the horizon.

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT: Show your support for charities like Mates in Mind who promote mental wellbeing in the workplace.

GET INVOLVED: Register your interest for the Four Day Week Pilot Programme.

DONATE: Make a donation to Mates in Mind to help them improve workplaces around the country.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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