The 4-Day Work Week

Lynne Griffiths

There continues to be much talk around a 4-day working week. It’s part of the overall flexible working discussion, post-Covid work/life balance goal and all in conjunction with “The Great Resignation” debate.

What It’s Not

A 4-day working week is not a new phenomenon. Many employees in the UK already work a 4-day week, however, this is typically agreed on a case by case basis between employee and employer following a flexible working request. It tends to be accompanied by a corresponding reduction in pay, except in the case of “compressed hours” in which case the employee is simply squeezing the same number of hours into a shorter week.

4-Day Week Trial

Trials of a 4-day working week are planned across the UK later this year. More than 30 companies will take part in a six month trial led by 4 Day Week Global, think tank Autonomy and researchers at Oxford University, Boston College, and Cambridge University. The pilot scheme, which will run from June 2022 to December 2022, is also being conducted in the US, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In this pilot, the employees will be doing one day’s less work but for no less pay. The logic behind this is that employees won’t be measured on how long they are at work, but the output they produce, with those running the pilot seeking to prove that the shortened week will in fact result in greater productivity and output rather than less.

Some Key Benefits

  1. Better work-life balance. More free time would allow for those non-work parts of life that are often neglected such as:
  2. Rest
  3. Leisure – from spending time with family and friends, to pursuing hobbies and passion projects
  4. “Life Admin” 
  5. Higher performance and profits – trials show a reduced work week increases an organisation’s productivity. A Henley Business School study in 2019 found that 250 firms participating in a 4-day week saved an estimated £92 billion a year because their employees were happier, less stressed, and took fewer sick days.
  6. Talent retention – reducing the work week enables organisations to attract and retain talented employees. 
  7. Better mental & physical health – more time to recuperate, exercise, socialise and spend time with family.
  8. Improved gender equality 
  9. A reduced carbon footprint – Research has shown that a four-day week could reduce the UK’s carbon footprint by 127 million tonnes per year, equivalent to taking 27 million cars off the road (effectively the entire UK private car fleet).

What about the Disadvantages?

Some projects have ultimately determined that the 4 day week just wasn’t cost effective. Implementing a four-day work-week can be difficult as it requires the right support, technology and workplace culture. Unavoidably, changes will encounter some challenges and disadvantages.

Customers may complain that they are unable to access services with offices closed on a Friday. Using technology could solve some issues related to customer satisfaction as it would allow customers another avenue of support rather than relying on office-based staff members. Or staff working hours (including reduced ones) could be staggered to cover all existing operational hours.

Another cautionary note is that without clear guidelines, employers are at risk of a quality downturn as talent attempts to squeeze the same amount of work into four days instead of five.

A four-day working week model clearly won’t suit every business and will require genuine support from both leadership and the employees, as well the appropriate technology and infrastructure, to give it any chance of success.

Could a 4 day week work within the business travel industry?


Sirius Talent Solutions are not just business travel recruitment specialists, we can also provide your organisation with outsourced HR and training, on a project or a retained basis.

For further details, call (01932 562007) or email:  [email protected]