Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The pandemic has shown that work practices can adapt as millions of people moved their work desks from office to home, in a bid to avoid catching and spreading Covid19. The length of time spent at work is now also under review.
A report by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), shows the average working hours across Europe in 2020 vary significantly. They reported that Turkey has the longest workweek with 45.6 hours, while The Netherlands worked the shortest hours, 29.5 a week. The U.K. along with Spain and France work an average of 36.3- 36.5 hours a week.
4 Day Week UK believe the “5-day working week is outdated and no longer fit for purpose”. They are campaigning for “a society where we work to live, rather than live to work.”
A new 6-month pilot has been launched in the UK, whereby 30 companies will be shortening their work week from 5 to 4 days. The 30 companies are nationwide.
The pilot is being operated by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and researchers from Oxford University, Cambridge University and Boston College.
Throughout the 6-month pilot, the productivity and wellbeing of workers will be major areas of assessment, as well as environmental factors associated with reducing the workweek by 20%.
The report, Stop the Clock, commissioned by the 4 Day Week campaign from Platform London, predicts “shifting to a four-day working week without loss of pay could shrink the UK’s carbon footprint by 127 million tonnes per year by 2025.”
The UK is not the only country experimenting with the 4-day workweek.
Iceland operated a 4-day work week pilot, in 2019, with positive results. Will Stronge, Director of Research at Autonomy, described the Icelandic experiment, as “an overwhelming success”.
Microsoft in Japan ran a 4-day week trial in the month of August in 2019. Every Friday the office was closed, virtual meetings were strongly encouraged and they were capped at 30 minutes. Microsoft found that the experience was popular with 92% of the staff and they had a reduction in electricity consumption (23%) and paper printing (53%).
Results of the British 6-month pilot are not expected until 2023, but expectations are “better work-life balance”, “increased productivity” and “reduced carbon footprint”.