nWork only four days a week but get paid for five days? About 70 companies with 3,300 employees are now experimenting with this in Great Britain. It is said to be the largest pilot project in the world. It is organized by the 4 Day Week Global Group, which is campaigning to reduce working hours to 32 hours per week.
It is the small businesses that are mainly involved. Industries are different. The list includes a Norfolk beachfront fish and chips store, Sheffield-based software company Rivelin Robotics, inheritance tax advisor Stellar Asset Management and Kent-based Charity Bank. A few months ago, online Atom Bank and software company WANdisco began similar four-day-a-week trials. You hope your employees will be happier and more motivated and that your productivity will increase. “100-80-100” is the magic formula that organizers promised: 100 percent productivity with 80 percent of hours worked and 100 percent of wages.
Sociologist Juliet Shore of Boston College, who accompanies the pilot project academically with others and evaluates the results, calls it a “historic attempt.” She studies how employees react to the extra day off. Concretely, they expect less stress and burnout, more job satisfaction, less employee turnover, less layoffs, and higher overall productivity. The four-day week will bring “triple earnings”, especially for employees, companies and the climate, she is optimistic.
Because companies participate voluntarily, they have a good feeling that the experiment will work for them. However, it also suggests that “in order to extend the four-day work week across the economy, government action is required to bring in companies that either cannot see the benefits or whose benefits are lower,” Shore told FAZ Joe O. 4 Day Week Global Group More and more companies are now discovering as the pandemic approaches that they need to offer their employees something new to stay competitive. Shorter working hours are a competitive advantage.
Differences in production and services
One of the participating companies is the microbrewery Pressure Drop Brewery in Tottenham, North London. “Everyone around the world needs to change the way they live and work,” says founder Sam Smith. However, the brewery boss admits that for a company like his that makes physical products, the challenges of a four-day week with full pay compensation are greater than those faced by providers who can organize their work more flexibly.
The New Zealand-based group 4 Day Week Global writes that their studies show this is possible. In previous pilots, nearly two-thirds of companies saw advantages in hiring new employees four days a week. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of participating employees said they were happier and less stressed.
In parallel with the current pilot in the UK, similar trials are being prepared in Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the campaign group says. There were also individual tests in Sweden and Finland. Years ago, the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, attempted a drastic reduction in working hours for local government employees. In Spain, the dissident left-wing party “Mas País” has proposed introducing a four-day work week across the country.
Germany is not doing well
There are currently no major trials in Germany. The Education and Science Consortium (GEW) recently published a request to introduce a “32-hour week with full pay for all” under the title “Feminist Time Policy”. IG Metall also flirted with the idea. The head of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzcher, said two years ago that reducing working hours to four days a week was possible – but not through full pay compensation. For businesses, this could actually mean a significant increase in hourly wages and therefore higher costs that many cannot afford.
In light of the urgent staff shortage in many companies, the idea of drastic reductions in working hours across the board seems a bit outdated. The recent statements of the head of the German Institute of Economics (IW) linked to employers tend in the opposite direction: he called for a 42-hour week increase – with a corresponding increase in salary.
“Food practitioner. Bacon guru. Infuriatingly humble zombie enthusiast. Total student.”
The European Union Parliament calls for 12 weeks’ imprisonment for asylum seekers
Von der Leyen: The European Union must rebalance relations with China
Public Service: The Failure of German Collective Bargaining