30 UK businesses are reportedly taking part in a four-day workweek trial this week, which is set to last for six months.

The study will be asking the employees to continue with their jobs as normal, at the same level of pay, but rather than splitting the work across five days, this will be reduced to four. The trial is part of the 4 Day Week Campaign, backed by thinktank Autonomy, Boston College, Oxford and Cambridge University. The aim is to measure whether a shorter workweek has an impact or effect on wellbeing, equality and productivity in the workplace.

We’re not the first country to try out a shorter working week, with the US, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand having already undertaken similar pilot studies to take a look at whether a move to 4 day weeks would be feasible.

The Pros

Having a longer weekend is a bonus for so many people. Rather than clocking off late on a Friday and having 2 days to spend catching up with loved ones, spending quality time, socialising and taking part in activities, adding an extra day could well take the pressure of many that feel that it’s over in a blink of an eye. Having a more balanced week (4 days work, 3 days play) could well be the answer to helping people achieve a better work/life balance – coming back to the workplace more refreshed and more in control of their personal lives.

It would be an absolute celebration for current workers that have had to go part-time due to childcare issues or other personal reasons. Reducing the working week for everyone makes it a lot fairer – and it takes the slack off working parents who have had to reduce their working hours (and pay) to attend to their family. This would immediately open up a realm of possibilities for working parents to be back on an even playing field

It may well be what the economy needs after two years of the coronavirus pandemic. Having an extra day for people to get out and about may well help society bounce back to its former glory, after a few years of people being stuck indoors and locked down. Essentially an extra weekend day would obviously create an extra day where people will be looking to go out, enjoy themselves and get together with loved ones and friends.

The Cons

It wouldn’t really change things for freelancers or the self-employed – people that set their own working days and schedules. And we’re not sure yet how it would work for people that are paid by the hour. It would have to be implemented in a way that suits society as a whole as it’s a huge shift from the current setup.

Will business owners get as much quality/quantity for their money? There is a heavy reliance here on workers to fit their current workload that is spread over 5 days into 4 – which of course any employee would be happy to do if it meant an extra weekend day. But what is the effect on the quality of work? Would this have a long-term knock-on effect elsewhere in the business? When something this huge is changed, there is bound to be an area elsewhere that suffers or is impacted. The trial would need to be done over a significant amount of time and test a variety of sectors, industries and work setups. It is not a one-size-fits-all.

What are your thoughts about a potential 4-day working week?