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Brief Published: 10 Feb 2022

Is a Four-Day Week the Future of Work?

In the US, 38% of employees say a flexible schedule is one of the top benefits at work

The idea of a reduced working week is gathering pace, with fresh research highlighting its beneficial effects on performance and personal happiness, and new pilots underway in several countries. Consumers are expressing a clear preference for flexible working, and businesses are taking note as they seek to retain staff amid the Great Resignation.

Since Covid-19 upheaval (including the mass shift to working from home) has undone long-held assumptions about how and where people can work effectively (see The New Rules of Work), more employers are becoming receptive to the four-day week concept as a way of offering a better work-life balance and reducing burnout.

Brands that have recently implemented four-day working week policies include US fintech start-up Bolt. After conducting a three-month trial in 2021 that gave employees Fridays off, the business saw a staff response so overwhelmingly positive – 87% reported they had a better work-life balance, and 90% felt they were more efficient with their time – it announced it would adopt the practice permanently (Four-Day Workweek, 2022).

This year, non-profit 4 Day Week Global is leading pilots of a four-day week across the UK, North America, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. During the six-month scheme, participating firms will be provided with support from experts and academics in the form of training, mentoring and networking to ease the shift. Employees will be expected to maintain their productivity despite the shorter number of working hours, with their pay level remaining the same.

“Businesses are moving to productivity-focused strategies to enable them to reduce worker hours without reducing pay,” said Charlotte Lockhart, co-founder of 4 Day Week Global. With 38% of US employees saying a flexible schedule is one of the most important work benefits (PwC, 2021), four days may well become a future working norm in many nations.

For more on new-era work attitudes, see Enlightened Employers, The Brief and Work’s Flexible Future.