About sixty companies will participate in this test, which should involve about 3,000 employees.
“My first idea was to volunteer, then I thought I could do something else, learn a new skilllike particle physics, explains Louis Bloomsfield, who also plans to spend more time with his family. “There’s so much you can do with an extra day.“The 36-year-old brewer gets excited, inspecting beer kegs.
The north London brewery where he works, Pressure Drop, will participate in a giant trial from June, involving 3,000 employees across sixty companies, working four days a week. This trial, touted as the world’s largest ever held, aims to help companies reduce their working hours without reducing wages or slowing down their activity.
Trials around the world
Similar trials have taken place in Spain, Iceland, the United States and Canada, and are expected to begin in August in Australia or New Zealand. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, program director at 4 Day Week Global, which organizes the trials, says the six-month UK trial will have the benefit of giving companies more time to experiment and collect data.
Adaptation should be easier for SMEs, which can implement big changes more quickly, he told AFP. Pressure Drop aims to improve employee well-being while helping to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
The Royal Biological Society, which is also involved in the trial, says it wants to give officials “more autonomy“. Like Pressure Drop, it hopes that a shorter workweek can attract new employees and, more importantly, help retain the best, in a particularly tight UK job market. At 3.7%, the rate unemployment is the lowest in nearly 50 years and job openings, which have reached a record 1.3 million.
Brewery founder Sam Smith admits that being closed three days a week would pose challenges, as “we need to be open all the time, but that’s what we’re going to study during the trial“. He plans to give employees different days off and do two shifts to allow for continuous operation.
A shorter workweek is easier to implement in the service sector, which makes up 80% of the UK economy. But for retail, food and beverage, it’s more complicated, says Jonathan Boys, an economist at the Personal Development Institute, an association of human resources professionals.
The key to the test’s success, he says, will therefore be measuring productivity, especially in a service economy where much of the work is less quantifiable than a factory’s output. “If you go from five days to four, you lose a day of work and, therefore, of production. So the real question is: (…) will an increase in productivity make up for that lost day? (…) If not, we will have a hard time maintaining the four-day week without sacrificing growth.“.
But for Aidan Harper, co-author of a book promoting a four-day workday (“The case of a four-day week”), countries that work less tend to have higher productivity. “Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands work less than the UK and have high levels of productivity“, he explains to AFP.
On the other hand, he adds that Greece is one of the European countries with the longest working hours due to low productivity. For Phil McParlane, founder of recruitment firm 4dayweek.io, a shorter workweek is a winning option for companies and employees. He still talks about asuperpower hiring“.
His recruitment firm specializing in flexible working and four-day weekly jobs says the number of companies looking to hire through their platform has quadrupled in the past two years, reflecting the rise of hybrid work and the quest for a better quality of life. after two years of pandemic.
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