In June 2022, a think tank based in the UK started a pilot program to test out four-day work weeks in the corporate sector. Although this wasn't the first study to test shorter working hours, this turned out to be the largest program of its kind.
The results of the study were released on 21 February, and it points to reduced working hours leading to less burnout, stress, and more productivity and job satisfaction. The findings may be another rung in encouraging policymakers to think of implementing major changes in the way the corporate world works.
Here's what the study found.
Largest study of its kind: The study involved 2,900 workers from 61 companies across industries in the UK. The program was carried out between June to December 2022.
It was conducted by a UK advocacy group called 4-Day Week Global.
What the study found: Compared to before the trials, of all the participants that were interviewed,
71 percent reported less burnout
39 percent reported less stress
48 percent found their job more satisfying
62 percent said they had better work and social life balance
73 percent reported increased satisfaction with their lives in terms of less fatigue, improved sleep, and improved over all mental health.
Why it matters This isn't the first time such an experiment was conducted. There have been other experiments like this by companies in other parts of the world as well, including Japan and UAE.
However, this is the first study of this scale conducted over months, and it reinforces the findings of previous studies that reducing work hours increases productivity, as well as employee satisfaction.
The fine print: The companies were required to bring down the working hours of the employees, without reducing their pay.
Because a four-day work week per se wouldn't be practical for all industries, they were given the freedom to tailor policies that best suited their organisational needs while facilitating a 'meaningful' reduction in work time.
Yes, but,13 percent of the participants also reported an increase in stress levels.
22 percent of the participants also said they experienced more burnout than before.
Moreover, unlike the study, broader implementation or reduced working hours may also involve pay cuts.
The way forward According to a report by the study authors, around 92 percent of the participating companies said they would continue testing the shorter work week, while 18 companies planned to make it permanent.
India may not be ready for this conversation, yet, especially considering a large chunk of the workforce still operates on 6-day work weeks.
Although a similar study was conducted by Beroe India, but they did this by increasing the working hours in a day to 12 hours which wasn't very feasible for large scale implementation.