United Kingdom: The world's largest attempt at a four-day week is currently underway - the first reactions are positive

No longer working from Monday to Friday, but only four days a week - that's what many employees dream of.

United Kingdom: The world's largest attempt at a four-day week is currently underway - the first reactions are positive

No longer working from Monday to Friday, but only four days a week - that's what many employees dream of. And researchers also repeatedly refer to the advantages of such a model. These include, for example, a more efficient way of working or a better work-life balance. Pilot projects are underway in several countries to explore the impact of reducing weekly working hours.

The world's largest test run of this type recently began in the United Kingdom. 3,300 employees in 70 companies and organizations from various sectors have only been working four days a week since the beginning of June. The employees do not have to accept any loss of payment. The trial is initially scheduled to run for six months.

The effects should then be evaluated in detail. The organization "4 Day Week Global" is involved in the project, the evaluation is carried out by researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and Boston College. But after just a few weeks, some of the participants drew a positive interim conclusion.

One bank teller described her first experience of the four-day workweek as "phenomenal": "I can really enjoy my weekend now because I have Friday for housework and other little things," she told CNN. The woman from the south-west of England cares for her parents and usually had to get up very early to do the shopping before work. Now she can spend more time with her family.

However, the transition is not going smoothly in some companies. "To be honest, the first two weeks were really chaotic," admits the head of a PR agency at CNN. "I thought I made a big mistake." However, her team has now developed methods to work more efficiently and complete the same tasks in less time.

For example, meetings can now last no longer than five minutes. With a traffic light system at their desk, employees can signal whether they are currently busy or can be approached. The boss puts the probability of going back to a five-day week at 25 percent.

Other companies have instituted periods of focused work—ignoring email and other distractions. Many also introduce time limits for meetings. The analyzes at the end of the project will show whether the productivity of a conventional five-day week can also be achieved in four days.

However, many employees (and also bosses) are already looking forward to more free time, the opportunity to pursue hobbies and report improved mental health.

The largest pilot project of a four-day week to date took place in Iceland. There, between 2015 and 2019, one percent of the population (2,500 workers) worked one day less.

The British think tank Autonomy, which is also involved in the current project in the United Kingdom, called the pilot test an "overwhelming success". Productivity and services would not have suffered from the reduced working hours in most places.

At the same time, it was shown that the well-being of the employees had improved in many ways. In Germany, only a few companies are currently testing a four-day week or have completely switched to it.

Sources: CNN / 4 Day Week Global / BBC

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