Companies taking part in four-day working week say it ISN’T working

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Companies participating in the world’s largest four-day workweek trial are grappling with roster chaos and staff confusion — as bosses say policies may not survive the trial.

More than 3,000 workers in 70 companies began a four-day workweek in June as part of a trial that could overhaul Britons’ working lives.

The staff is paid in full for 80 percent of their time, but they are committed to producing 100 percent of their usual output.

The program is coordinated by campaign group 4 Day Week Global, think tank Autonomy and academics from Oxford, Cambridge and Boston College in the US.

Several companies and charities are involved, including the Royal Society of Biology, the hip London brewery Pressure Drop, the computer game developer in Southampton, Yo Telecom, a medical device company from Manchester and a fish and chip shop in Norfolk.

But some chief executives are beginning to believe the scheme cannot realistically continue beyond the December pilot termination date.

Samantha Losey, boss of communications company Unity, said: The Telegraph: ‘It is more likely that we will not continue now. One of the things I’ve noticed is whether or not we’re mature enough to handle the four-day workweek.

Samantha Losey, boss of communications company Unity, says she doubts she will continue the plan after the pilot ends

Samantha Losey, boss of communications company Unity, says she doubts she will continue the plan after the pilot ends

Trio Media boss Claire Daniels (pictured) ha said the four-day week complicates the recruitment process

Trio Media boss Claire Daniels (pictured) ha said the four-day week complicates the recruitment process

Trio Media boss Claire Daniels (pictured) ha said the four-day week complicates the recruitment process

Trio is one of 70 companies participating in the pilot

Trio is one of 70 companies participating in the pilot

Trio is one of 70 companies participating in the pilot

“The rest of the world not doing four-day weeks makes it a challenge. We agreed that we would go all the way through the pilot, but I wonder if this is the right choice for us in the long run. It must have been bumpy.’

She also complained that it has caused problems on handover days because the staff has several days off.

And Trio Media boss Claire Daniels said the four-day workweek is making hiring difficult and could not confirm whether her company will continue the arrangement beyond the end of the year.

She said: ‘The only challenge at the moment is recruitment, as we cannot guarantee that we will continue the four-day trial.’

Critics argue that the concept would be impossible in customer-facing jobs or 24/7 operations, including where overtime creates additional costs for employers or the taxpayer.

A trial of the four-day workweek in France previously found that employees worked the same number of hours, even with one day less, and that companies had to pay them for their extra time.

Kirsty Wainwright, 34, the general manager of Platten's fish and chip shop in Norfolk, has previously said long hours in the hospitality industry exacerbate staff shortages

Kirsty Wainwright, 34, the general manager of Platten's fish and chip shop in Norfolk, has previously said long hours in the hospitality industry exacerbate staff shortages

Platten's fish and chip shop in Wells-next-the-Sea, North Norfolk, is also taking part in the trial

Platten's fish and chip shop in Wells-next-the-Sea, North Norfolk, is also taking part in the trial

Kirsty Wainwright, 34, the general manager of Platten’s fish and chip shop in Norfolk, has previously said long hours in the hospitality industry exacerbate staff shortages

Advantages and disadvantages of a four-day work week

Advantages:

  • Less distraction at work
  • Longer hours doesn’t mean more output
  • Increased mental well-being and physical health
  • Parents with children are less stressed
  • Reduced ecological footprint

cons:

  • Not all sectors can participate
  • It could increase existing inequalities
  • The cost risk for employers is expensive
  • Employees can still work the same hours
  • Difficult team management

Source: Adecco Group

Some economists have also said that working fewer hours would lower living standards, while the leader of one of Spain’s main business associations has previously described it as “madness.”

It’s because the pandemic has led more employees to work from home and take on more flexible hours instead of the usual nine-to-five, five-day workweek.

Christine MacKay, boss of animation studio Salamandra, said her company was unable to launch the pilot due to the number of major projects it is currently working on.

She said ‘I’ve had mixed reactions’ [from staff] – some are very enthusiastic and some are not so enthusiastic because everyone works at different speeds.

“It’s quite a stressful prospect when you naturally slow down. As soon as the company or the customers are in danger, it stops.’

Despite the concerns, however, some chief executives said the workforce seems happier and more motivated.

Matt Bolton, co-founder of advertising agency Mox London, said it was “the best business decision” he’s ever made.

And Joe O’Connor, the person leading the campaign, said the feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

Major companies that have tried a four-day workweek but are not part of the trial include Unilever, Panasonic and Atom Bank, the largest employer that made the switch last November.

During the pandemic, it was believed that the introduction of a four-day workweek would increase high-street sales by an estimated £58 billion, Affise said.

This is because three-day weekends would give shoppers 20 percent more time to buy, and see an expected increase in spending on hobbies, gardening and DIY.

The UK companies participating in a four-day weekly program from tech companies, recruiters to charities:

5 squirrels – Healthcare

Adzooma – Tech

AKA Case Management – Home care

Allcap Limited – Industrial & Building Supplies

Amplitude – Creative marketing agency

learning rock – EdTech (primary and secondary education)

book wise – Gift

Boom Studios – Creative and cultural

charity bank – Financial services (banking)

Comcen – THE

Euro cars – Automotive

Everledger – Technology

Evolution Money Limited – Financial services

Learning future talent – Online education

Girling Jones – Recruitment

Happy – Learning

Helping hands – Housing/health and social care

loft – Spell

IP mark: – Digital & Branding

literal people – Marketing advertising

Loud mouth media – Digital Marketing

merthyr Valley Homes Limited – Housing

MOX – To advertise

NeatClean – Consumer Goods

Our community – Technology & Training

Results-Based Healthcare – Healthcare

Results first group – Healthcare and education services

Platten’s Fish and Chips – Hospitality

Brewing pressure drop – Brewing / Manufacturing

Rivelin Robotics – Software / Production

Royal Society of Biology – Charity

Salamandra.nl – Animation

Scotland’s International Development Alliance – Charity

Secure Digital Exchange Ltd – THE

Sensat – Start software

Sounds like this – Media

Stellar wealth management – Financial services

Stemettes – Charity

The Story Mob – Public Relations / Communication

Timberlake Consultants Ltd / TLKE Ltd – Advice on software training

Trio Media – Digital Marketing

Tyler Grange – Environmental advice

Unit – Public Relations / Communication

waterwise – Environmental campaign organization (not4profit)

We are goal oriented – Not for profit

Yo Telecom – Telecommunications Southampton

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