Most companies in 4-day work week trial say they won’t go back


Most of the companies participating in a massive trial of a four-day work week have no plans to go back to their old schedule, according to data released on Tuesday.

A total of 61 UK-based businesses with roughly 2,900 employees adopted a four-day schedule from June through November of last year.

Of the 61 companies, a whopping 91% said they were definitely continuing to follow a four-day schedule or were planning to continue, the study’s organizers said. Just 4% of the companies said they were returning to a five-day-per-week schedule.

“At the beginning, this was about pandemic burnout for a lot of employers. Now it’s more of a retention and recruitment issue for many of them,” Juliet Schor, a Boston College economist and sociologist who served as a lead researcher on the study, told the Wall Street Journal.

Four day work week
Sixty-one UK-based companies participated in the world’s largest trial of a four-day work week.
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Revenue at the participating firms jumped by 35% during the six-month trials compared to the same period one year earlier, data from the study showed. The companies also noted upticks in hiring and decreases in employee absences and turnover.

Workers at the companies noted major improvements to their well-being — with 71% noting a decrease in feelings of burnout, 39% saying they felt less stressed than before the trial and 40% indicating a decrease in difficulty sleeping.

The study’s organizers said the six-month trial was the world’s largest of its kind to date. Smaller trials at companies based in the US and Canada were recently completed, according to the Journal.

The studies have some flaws. Most of the participants have been smaller companies, and participating firms are likely biased toward the concept of a four-day work week since they opted in to the program.

Workplace experimentation has increased in recent years as the COVID-19 pandemic drove a shift toward remote work and hybrid schedules. Recent employee trends such as the “Great Resignation” signaled that workers are seeking more flexibility and better work-life balance.

The US labor market remains historically tight despite a worsening economy. As of last month, the national unemployment rate was just 3.4%.

The workplace trends have increased pressure on corporate landlords whose tenants have been slow to return to the office.

A separate report by the Wall Street Journal noted a rise in debt defaults among office landlords. The delinquency rate on office loans rose by a quarter percentage point to 1.83% in January — the largest monthly increase since December 2021, according to data firm Trepp Inc.

One such default impacted investment giant Brookfield Asset Management, which defaulted on more than $750 million in debt tied to two 52-story office towers in Los Angeles, according to a filing.


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