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What to expect from the UK's four-day week trial

Starting this week and running until December, more than 60 UK companies with over 3,000 workers will participate in a six-month coordinated trial of the four-day working week as part of a global pilot programme.

They join hundreds of employers and thousands of employees taking part in our global trials in 2022 in Ireland, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.

Our approach is based on the 100-80-100 model, pioneered by our co-founders Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart in the landmark Perpetual Guardian trial in New Zealand in 2018.

Employees earn 100% of the pay, 80% of the time, in exchange for a commitment to delivering 100% of the output.

Rethinking the 9-to-5:

Four-day week needs careful planning to succeed

Employees more optimistic of four-day week than employers

Does a four-day week undermine true flexibility?

From our experience it is clear that the companies that achieve the greatest and most sustainable productivity gains are those where leadership empowers and enables their workforce to find solutions.

We've seen companies abandon planned trials before launching them, because their leadership team focus too much on the detail rather than the direction, and they overthink their way out of the idea rather than asking their people and creating space for them to find the answers.

There can also be an unhealthy obsession with ultra-micro, individualised productivity measurement, rather than a focus on collective output.

Individual measurement will yield an individualised approach, while collective measurement tends to elicit a partnership approach focused on collective efficiencies and structural changes.

The four-day work week can complement strong, positive organisational cultures built on trust - but it can't fix or paper over bad company culture.

As the largest reduced work time trial to take place anywhere in the world, with over 70 companies and 3,300 employees participating, our hope is that the UK pilot will provide the evidence and data which clearly demonstrates the feasibility and desirability of a four-day work week across a broad range of industries.

Many are finding that when they clear away the rubble of unfocused, protracted and unnecessary meetings, distractions and interruptions, poor use of technology and outmoded, outdated processes, the four-day work week is in fact well within their grasp.

HR practitioners would be wise to ask themselves the question – is our greatest risk the risk of trying a four-day week in our business and failing, or is it being unwilling to try and our biggest competitor making the leap first?


Joe O’Connor is CEO at 4 Day Week Global