Four-day working week coming to Australia: 'A better balance'

The three-day weekend is finally a thing for thousands of workers in the UK.

More than 3,300 people have signed up for the world’s greatest trial of the four-day working week.

The six-month pilot involves 70 companies including a wide range of professions, from the local fish and chip shop to large financial firms.

It will see employees work the 100:80:100 model, whereby they’ll receive 100 percent pay for just 80 per cent of their usual hours in return for 100 per cent productivity.

A woman on a video call
The four-day work week is being trialled for 3,300 employees in the UK as part of the biggest trial of its kind in the world. Source: Getty

Australia and NZ to trial four-day week

The UK uptake comes just two months before Australia and New Zealand are due to follow with their own trial.

20 organisations have already registered to take part in the four-day work week movement from across a spread of industries including finance, retail, health, technology and construction.

The six-month trial will run from August and is being heralded by experts as a step in the right direction, which will give employees more down time and opportunity to recover.

“I think it is a really good sign that an increasing number of employers are actually thinking about employee wellbeing and how they might support employee being,” Professor Julia Richardson from Curtin University’s School of Management and Marketing told Yahoo News Australia.

Professor Richardson described the global initiative as a silver lining of the pandemic, saying Covid led to more flexible working in terms of time and space.

“It’s encouraged employers and employees, customers and clients, all to think outside the regular nine to five,” she said.

Five people sit around a board room table
70 companies in the UK have signed up for the trial which kicks off two months before Australia and New Zealand businesses follow in their footsteps. Source: Getty

The trial is being run by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with thinktank Autonomy, 4 Day Week Campaign and three of the world’s top education institutions.

Researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College will work with participating organisations around the world to measure productivity and workers’ wellbeing.

“A hundred years ago, we moved from working six day weeks to five, and we’re overdue for an update,” 4 Day Week Global said on its website.

“Covid 19 made it clear we can find a better balance between work and life.”

But some are remaining cautiously optimistic, with fears of “work intensification".

“We need to be aware that there are some jobs that simply can’t be done in a four-day week,” Professor Richardson told Yahoo News Australia.

“It does trouble me, the idea of expectations of the same amount of productivity in reduced work hours, so I have some questions around how is that possible.

“Are organisations going to improve the facilities and the support systems so that employees can continue their level of performance and meet their KPIs? Or are they going to expect employees to produce in fewer days per week but using the same systems?”

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