Employees in the United Kingdom have been offered a chance to work four days a week – without any salary cuts, and it might be time for South Africa to take notes.
According to Euro News, a six-month programme was announced on Monday, 17 January, recruiting 30 UK companies to study how shorter working hours may impact businesses’ productivity and the well-being of their workers, as well as the impact on the environment and gender equality.
Similar trials like this have already been implemented in Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, reports ITV News.
The companies will follow the 100:80:100 model, where employees with receive 100% of their paycheck for only 80% of the time, while remaining 100% productive and committed as they were before.
“The four-day week challenges the current model of work and helps companies move away from simply measuring how long people are ‘at work’, to a sharper focus on the output being produced,” said Joe O’Connor, manager of the pilot scheme for 4 Day Week Global, according to Euro News.
The programme is being run by researchers at Cambridge and Oxford Universities and Boston College, as well as the non-profit advocacy groups 4 Day Week Global, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and the UK think tank Autonomy. These researchers have an aim to recruit 30 UK companies by the time its begins in June 2022.
In 2021, the results of the four-day working week trial in Iceland show how productivity at work remained the same and in some cases even improved after the working hours were cut.
Some participants also reported that it had a “powerful positive effect on work-life balance,” which allowed them to spend a lot more time with their children or pursue hobbies. Men took on a lot of household chores, the Icelandic researchers found.
Meanwhile, organisers of the four-day week trial used previous company trials as evidence that shorter hours can not only just benefit the employees, but companies too. In 2019, Microsoft Japan also found that the four-day week trial boosted their productivity by 40%.