Four-day working week would improve UK carbon footprint and employee mood

Not only do employees want a four-day work week, but a new report says its introduction would dramatically reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.

Moving to a four-day week by 2025 would shrink the UK’s emissions by 127 million tonnes, a reduction of more than 20%.

A cut in working hours would also reduce energy use in the workplace as well as slash transport emissions by cutting back on commuting.


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According to a new study, Stop the Clock: The Environmental Benefits of a Shorter Working Week, by the 4 Day Week campaign and environmental organisation Platform London, this would be the equivalent to taking the country’s entire private car fleet off the road.

A significant amount of UK employees also want the introduction of a four-day working week with no loss of pay.

Seven in ten (70%) said they were in favour of switching to a four-day week on the same pay, according to research by interior designer MoreySmith.

However, a loss of money wouldn’t deter some employees from the smaller work week.

One in four employees (25%) would move to a four-day working week even if their wages were reduced by one fifth.

Adrian Lewis, co-founder and commercial director of HR software company Activ Absence, said companies that introduce a four-day week could see benefits for the business and staff in a number of ways.

He told HR magazine: “They could find employees are more productive, have increased job satisfaction and a better work/life balance and could also help people feel less stressed and improve their mental wellbeing.

“We know employees want greater flexibility in their working lives and by acknowledging this with a four-day working week, employees will feel more valued which could increase their loyalty and retention.”

Lewis said a shorter working week would also help companies promote equality and better cater for employees with childcare responsibilities or support care and work commitments.

“For those who don’t have caring responsibilities, it could lead to them having time to volunteer, exercise or simply take time for themselves,” he suggested.

Jonathan Richards, CEO and founder at Breathe, said businesses that adopt hybrid working models will contribute to a greener future.

He told HR magazine: “Businesses that adopt hybrid working models may well find they can downgrade to smaller work premises, as a result, they may be able to reduce their reliance on technical infrastructure that is in place now.

“If this is the case, and especially if these companies also migrate systems to certified environmentally friendly cloud-based hosting facilities, this is highly likely to reduce a company’s carbon footprint.”

Richards said the cloud has been a key enabler for companies as they have adopted working from home policies and many modern datacentres are more environmentally friendly than running and managing technology in-house

“People are so conscious of where we are now in terms of the need for rapid change and a company’s impact will be a major concern for many employees,” he said.

MoreySmith surveyed 1,017 UK adults in full or part time work between 16 and 18 April 2021.