In this episode, we’ll discuss a study suggested through LinkedIn by one of our listeners. Published by a research and consultancy/advocacy organization called Autonomy, the paper is titled, “The Results Are In: The UK’s Four-Day Week Pilot”. Published in February 2023, this is a non-peer-reviewed paper and the research methodology is a bit skewed as a “pilot” instead of a controlled trial, but still contains valuable results that we’ll discuss.
This report details the full findings of the world’s largest four-day working week trial to date, comprising 61 companies and around 2,900 workers, that took place in the UK from June to December 2022. The design of the trial involved two months of preparation for participants, with workshops, coaching, mentoring and peer support, drawing on the experience of companies who had already moved to a shorter working week, as well as leading research and consultancy organisations. The report results draw on administrative data from companies, survey data from employees, alongside a range of interviews conducted over the pilot period, providing measurement points at the beginning, middle, and end of the trial.
- Background on the five-day workweek
- We’ll set out to prove or review two central claims:
- Reduce hours worked, and maintain same productivity
- Reduced hours will provide benefits to the employees
- Digging in to the Autonomy organization and the researchers and authors
- Says “trial” but it’s more like a pilot program
- 61 companies, June to December 2022
- Issues with methodology – companies will change in 6 months coming out of Covid- a controlled trial would have been better
- The pilot only includes white collar jobs – no physical, operational, high-hazard businesses
- The revenue numbers
- Analysing the staff numbers- how many filled out the survey? What positions did the respondents hold in the company?
- Who experienced positive vs. negative changes in individual results
- Interviews from the “shop floor” was actually CEOs and office staff
- Eliminating wasted time from the five-day week
- What different companies preferred employees to do with their ‘extra time’
- Assumption 1: there is a business use case benefit- not true
- Assumption 2: benefits for staff – mixed results
- Don’t use averages
- Finding shared goals can be good for everyone
- Be aware of burden-shifting
- The answer to our episode’s question – It’s a promising idea, but results are mixed, and it requires more controlled trial research