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
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
“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
Advantages and disadvantages of a four-day work week
- 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
- 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