July 5, 2019
A four day working week could save UK businesses an estimated £104 billion annually, while improving productivity and their environmental performance according to new research from Henley Business School. The research claims that a shorter working week on the same pay could add to businesses’ bottom lines through increased staff productivity and an uplift in staff physical and mental health, whilst also resulting in a cleaner environmental footprint. Henley’s ‘Four Better or Four Worse?’ white paper exploring the issue claims that of those businesses who have already adopted a four day week, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) have reported improvements in staff productivity.
The research also found that this working style increased overall quality of life for employees, with over three quarters (78 percent) of implementing businesses saying staff were happier, less stressed (70 percent) and took fewer days off ill (62 percent). Almost two thirds (63 percent) of employers said that providing a four-day working week has helped them to attract and retain talent. The report also claims that with an additional day off, 40 percent of employees would use the time to up-skill or develop professional skills. A quarter said they would use their fifth day to volunteer.
According to Henley, the adoption of four-day working weeks shows no sign of slowing down. Over a third of business leaders surveyed (34 percent), and nearly half (46 percent) of those in larger businesses, say making the switch to a four-day working week will be important for future business success, so we’re likely to see more trials and implementations in the coming years.
The study suggests that UK workers are keen for this workplace shakeup, with nearly three quarters (72 percent) agreeing it’s an attractive proposition and would be a firm driver when picking an employer. This is particularly important for Gen Z – with two thirds (67 percent) saying it would help them to make a decision on who to work for. The four-day week also demonstrates a positive impact on the environment, as employees estimate they would drive 557.8 million fewer miles per week on average, leading to fewer transport emissions.
Despite the financial, environmental and wellbeing advantages, nearly three quarters (73 percent) of employers cite concerns around taking up the change, with client and customer servicing and the need to be available, noted as the main barrier for 82 percent of businesses. While the majority of workers would opt for a four-day working week, nearly half (45 percent) would worry about being perceived as lazy by coworkers and a third (35 percent) would be concerned if they had to hand over their work to colleagues.