A four day week, does it really work for everyone?

By Jules Mackley 29th November 2022
Graphic of person looking at calendar
The world of work has changed dramatically since the Covid pandemic. From video calls to flexible home working and more focus on employees' work-life balance. Shortening the working week is not a new concept and has been talked about for quite sometime but does it really work?

The talk of a 4-day week is nothing new. There has been talk about it in the press for some time now, even before the pandemic there were discussions about trials and whether working less could improve productivity and support employees well-being. 

SimpleClick is keen to build a positive environment that supports a positive impact on staff mental health and well-being. However, it's important to get the right balance between staff benefits and commercial realities.

So where did it all start?

Iceland trial between 2015 and 2019

Between 2015 and 2019 2,500 workers in Reykjavik, Iceland (more than 1% of Iceland’s working population) took part in the world's largest pilot of a four-day week, cutting down working hours from 40 hours a day to 35 without any decrease in pay. 

The results were analysed by the British Think Tank and the Iceland non-profit Association for Sustainability and Democracy.

The pilot was deemed a success. Worker well-being increased with participants being less stressed and also had a reduced risk of burnout with no negative effect on productivity or service provision.

By June 2021 86% of Iceland's working population are now on contracts for shorter working hours or give them the right to do so in the future.

UK 4-day working week trial in 2022

More than 70 firms took part in a successful trial across the UK which will run for 6 months until January 2023. The trial sees 3,300 employees work one day less a week and receive the same pay. 

The researchers will work with each organisation to measure the impact of the reduced hours on productivity, and the well-being of its workers, as well as the impact on the environment and gender equality. At the halfway point of the trial data showed that productivity has been maintained or improved at the majority of firms. 86% of those surveyed said they would keep the 4-day week once the trial has ended.

Our journey to a 4-day week

For SimpleClick, jumping straight to a 4-day week could be too disruptive, after all, we are a small (but perfectly formed) team and ensuring we have the right resources available is an important consideration.

With this in mind, Directors Richard and Naomi worked on finding the right balance for staff, the business, and our customers, and in September we started a trial of a 9-day fortnight. This meant staff would work Monday to Friday one week and Monday to Thursday the next. The principle is 100% pay, 90% time, 100% productivity. Team members were allocated to one of 2 rotas. This is to alternate days off so there is always appropriate cover in the office. 

Understandably, there was a concern that staff would be expected to make up those hours, however, it was clear from the outset that Richard and Naomi were absolutely adamant this would not be the case, in fact, this could be a valid reason for the trial to fail!

Another concern was that the client experience would be hampered. Again another strong reason for failure.

I am pleased to report that the trial was a great success. Feedback from the team has been positive; it's hard to dislike a long weekend every other week! The team report feeling more energised and motivated after their Fridays off. Productivity has been improved with staff feeling able to work more efficiently and effectively to get tasks done, meaning client experience has not been hampered.

“I think the extra rest and break from work has a positive effect on my mental health which benefits me when I'm at work”

Andy Boland
Technical Project Manager

So it has been agreed that a 9-day fortnight policy is adopted. 

The ultimate goal is to transition to a 4-day week, but for now, the balance of a 9-day fortnight is a fantastic perk and wholeheartedly welcomed by the team!

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