The biggest ever four-day workweek trial kicks off in the UK

The pilot will include over 3,300 employees from 70 different companies.
Deniz Yildiran
A UK flag (left), and an ordinary (empty) office (right).1, 2

It's been decades since most workers have literally clocked in and -out of their day job. But the repetition can feel like it's swallowed your entire life.

No longer the author of your own time, your weekend plans eventually devolve from centering on your passions to anesthetizing yourself with entertainment, dreading the next week.

But that might be about to change forever, depending on the results of four-day work week trial programs, which are expanding to progressively more countries every month.

And the latest nation to test it out is the United Kingdom, which is kicking off its four-day work week trial, according to an initial report from CNN Business.

Workers clock 20 fewer hours, with 100 percent productivity

The largest-ever four-day workweek trial is now being conducted in the U.K., putting Iceland's successful trial in second place, which had been run between 2015 and 2019 and included 2,500 employees.

The trial will last until January 2023 for a period of six months and involve 3,300 employees and 70 companies. Organized by not-for-profit 4 Day Week Global, Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, and researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University, and Boston College, the well-being of the employees, environmental impact, and gender equality will be among the results to be measured.

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Since participants will work 20 percent fewer hours than usual, they will be required to maintain 100 percent productivity without any salary cut. And it seems that employees from different sectors such as tech, brewery, and marketing solutions agree that this trial will work for them in the long run.

"The pandemic [has] made us think a great deal about work and how people organize their lives," Sienna O'Rourke, brand manager at Pressure Drop Brewing, an independent brewery in London, told CNN Business. "We're doing this to improve the lives of our staff and be part of a progressive change in the world."

A four-day work week could empower workers to change their lives

"There’s so much research about how work expands to fill the time. Anyone who is skeptical about the four-day week should go and look at the studies in Iceland and Japan to see the positive impact it can have," Jennifer Lecomber-Peace, HR Manager at Adzooma, told Euronews Next.

The U.K. is not the first country to run such a pilot. In February of this year, the Federal Government of Belgium announced that it would implement a four-day work week to start an economy that is “more innovative, sustainable and digital”, The Brussels Times reported.

For many, at least one full weekend day is spent recovering from the long march of the work week, leaving only one day to make plans execute them, consider where you are in life (or if you'd be happier doing something else), or even catch up on work left undone by rising quotas at work.

From this point of view, adding a third weekend day — in a row — could empower workers with the time to advocate for their individuality — their dreams, and aspirations, and even reflect on whether their current job really has their best interests in mind. In short, the quality of life could be vastly improved by enabling workers to decide their own destiny on their own time, instead of only having enough to worry in dread of the next day.

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