Campaigners encourage firms to explore four-day Week with ‘4ugust’ initiative

The campaign group behind the UK’s four-day week trial is urging companies to try it out for themselves this August.The campaign group behind the UK’s four-day week trial is urging companies to try it out for themselves this August. The newly launched initiative, dubbed ‘4ugust’ (but of course) is a joint effort by the 4 Day Week Campaign and think tank Autonomy, with plans for it to become an annual event. Last month, the organisations released research findings based on their 2022 trial involving 3,000 workers. Around 90 percent of the 61 participating employers continue to operate on a four-day workweek.

The study, conducted by Boston College (USA) and sociologists from University College Dublin, claims that project managers and chief executives overwhelmingly perceived several benefits from the shorter workweek.

When implementing a four-day week, employers expect their teams to maintain their usual productivity levels while working only 80 percent of the time. The key to achieving this lies in eliminating or reducing activities of questionable value. Impressively, 82 percent of participants reported improved well-being, and half experienced a reduction in staff turnover.

Should companies embrace the ‘4ugust’ initiative, employees would enjoy an additional four days off, thanks to the bank holiday at the end of the month. Notably, some companies already offer reduced summer working hours—PwC, for instance, allows employees to finish early on Fridays. However, the government UK opposes four-day weeks in the public sector, and has threatened to withdraw funding from local authorities that choose to operate such arrangements.

Joe Ryle, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “4ugust is an exciting opportunity for organisations to experiment with a four-day week in a mini trial. “Many companies already operate with summer working hours so this is just one small step further,” he said. “We’re confident that many companies will sign up to take part and then get to see the benefits of a four-day week for themselves.”

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said that August would be a perfect time for a “low-stakes mini pilot” of a four-day week. “4ugust is an opportunity for companies to dip their toes in the pool, as it were, and try a four-day week for a limited time only,” he argues. “We are in the middle of a wave of organisations making the move to shorter working hours, and there are a great many other companies out there that are interested but don’t know how or when to start experimenting.

“It is also an opportunity for existing four-day week companies to shout about their best practices and celebrate their successful shifts to healthier, more sustainable and employee-centric hours. These stories should be held up as great examples of good employers and we’re here to amplify.”