The four-day workweek: A dream of every worker since they started working. Proclaimed by CNN as one of the most important new global business ideas in 2022, a reduced workweek might soon become the accepted organizational reality, and promising results from a new pilot program might give workers the statistical ammunition they need to prove to their bosses that a reduced workweek (without a reduction in pay!) can indeed work.
As Bloomberg reported, the first two of a series of pilot programs by 4 Day Week Global (4DWG) has concluded, and the results were telling: None of the participating companies who filled out final surveys said they would be going back to a standard five-day work schedule. On a scale of 0-10 (from “very negative” to “very positive”), the companies’ average rating for the first trials was a 9.0. Ninety-seven percent of involved employees want to keep the four-day week, too, and reported less work stress, burnout, fatigue and anxiety, as well as better sleep.
A 4 day/32-hour workweek has been gaining momentum in recent years. As the struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic continues, stress and long hours at work and the pressures of daily life have emerged as crucial issues for many workers. Although long-term pilot results are far from complete, initial findings are giving employees and their companies plenty of potential workplace benefits to think about.
If you are looking for compelling reasons to initiate a four-day workweek conversation with your boss, start with these four gleaned from the pilot’s results summary:
1. Company Revenues Increased During the Trial
For the participating companies who supplied sufficient data, overall revenue grew 8.14% by the end of the trail period (an increase of more than 1% a month), and the number of employees rose by 12.16% over the course of the trial.
Although the first trials involved a relatively small sample size, it is still promising — from a company standpoint — that employee absenteeism fell from 0.56 (just over half a day) per month to 0.39 during the trial.
2. Employee Productivity Rose
The reduced work time trial found participating workers were more productive and doing a better job when they were working four days instead of five. Before the trial began, employees were asked how their current work ability compared to their all-time best. The average self-rated ability was 7.17 on a scale from 0-10. At the end of the trial, it had risen to 7.83.
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Furthermore, the four-day workweek did not lead to an undesirable and unsustainable increase in pace or intensity of work. As CNN Business reported, at the halfway point of the pilot, 95% of companies surveyed by 4 Day Week Global said their productivity levels had either stayed the same or improved.
3. Employee Health and Well-Being Showed Noticeable Improvements
Measuring well-being at work, results indicated 67% of employees were less burned-out at the conclusion of the trail period, and work stress ratings decreased from 3.15 to 2.95 over the course of the trial (on a 1-5 scale from “never” to “all the time”).
Pilot outcomes were also significant related to health away from work. The pilot showed declines in reported fatigue levels (66% pre-trial, 57% post-trial) and sleep problems (59% pre-trial, 51% post-trial) and an increase of 23.7 minutes of exercise taken per week by employee participants.
4. Potential for Environmental and Climate Benefits
With less workers commuting, the trial tried to measure the potential impact a four-day week could have on the environment. Even with a high level of remote work happening, commuting results were encouraging. The number of people who reported commuting to work by car decreased from 56.5% pre-trial to 52.5% post-trial and commuting time fell from 3.56 hours per week to 2.59 hours.
Odd, but hopeful, was 4DWG’s observation of a small rise in self-reports of household recycling, walking and cycling and buying eco-friendly products among participants, as well.
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