The Workers Union has given a cautious welcome to the recently announced 4-day week pilot programme.
The trial will see companies offering workers the chance to enjoy a 4-day week for 5 days’ pay. However workers will have to commit to delivering the same amount of productivity as they would in a standard working week.
The six-month pilot is recruiting companies in order to analyse the impact of shorter working hours on productivity and wellbeing. Other areas that will be scrutinised include gender equality and the impact upon the environment.
A spokesperson for The Workers Union said: ‘We’ve long maintained that the jobs market of the future will experience technology and lifestyle disruptions undreamt of in previous eras. Covid has merely brought these transformations forward. Companies are going to have to provide additional – and in some cases long overdue – flexibility to their workers as part of their standard package of benefits.
‘On that basis we welcome the opportunity provided by this survey to gather data on these changes. In doing so we hope it will open up an honest debate on how society develops a healthier, less stressed attitude to work and lifestyle choices.’
The programme has been created by research teams based at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as Boston College, 4 Day Week Global, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and Autonomy, a UK-based think tank. The researchers hope to recruit 30 UK-based companies by the middle of this year.
The Workers Union Says…
The success of a recent 4-day week programme in Iceland suggests that the UK trial could form the basis of a new working relationship between employers and staff…and not before time.
For too long the British economy has clung to the mantra that more and longer is better than less and focused. Whether this is based on a correspondingly low opinion of the productivity of British workers, or whether it has become ingrained in our national psyche through historical precedent, is a matter of debate. What cannot be denied, however, is the desperate need to break with our nineteenth century approach to working hours and set a new agenda that reflects the realities of the modern world.
Working people no longer want to feel tethered to their desks for 8 hours a day. Technology has opened up new ways of doing business that make home offices at least as productive as communal office space. Workers no longer need to worry about missing meetings, when the digital world makes virtual meets transparently easy.
And then there is the question of work/life balance. Is there a legitimate reason to travel into city centres every day, when other options are available that support a better life for working people and their families?
What is clear is that the companies that invest in answering these questions, are the companies that are set fair to thrive in the future.