3,000 employees from 60 UK companies will take part in a six-month trial of a four-day working week.
Aimed at helping businesses cut working hours without cutting wages or sacrificing revenue, the pilot project is billed as the largest in the world to date.
It is led by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, program manager at 4 Day Week Global, which has organized similar trials in Spain, Iceland, the United States and Canada. Australia and New Zealand are expected to start theirs in August.
Pang said the trial will give companies “more time” to tackle challenges, experiment with new practices and collect data.
He believes that smaller organizations will find it easier to adapt because they can make big changes more easily.
Pressure Drop Brewery, which is one of the companies taking part in the trial, is based in Tottenham Hale.
He hopes the experience will not only improve their employees’ productivity, but also their well-being and reduce their carbon footprint.
According to its co-founder Sam Smith, “It will be difficult for a company like ours which has to operate constantly, but that is what we are going to experience in this trial.”
The Royal Society of Biology, another participant in the trial, says it wants to give employees “more autonomy over their time and their work rhythms”.
The two hope a shorter working week could help them retain employees, at a time when UK businesses are facing severe staff shortages and vacancies hitting a record 1.3 million.
Countries working fewer hours tend to have higher productivity according to Aidan Harper, author of “The Case for a Four Day Week”.
“Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands work fewer hours than the UK but have higher levels of productivity,” he told AFP.
“In Europe, Greece works more hours than anyone else, yet it has the lowest levels of productivity.”
(With agency contributions)