Finally, the four-day work week trial is here

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  • Progressive change is coming

    Britain is officially trialling the four-day work week and I’m thrilled. No, I’m not a skiver, I just believe that flexible working is the key to making life work, and the next step is the four-day workweek.

    Organised by 4 Day Week Global, the world’s biggest trial of the four-day work week began in the UK on Monday 6 June. The six-month-long trial will see 70 companies – totalling more than 3,300 workers – test out the four-day week (working 80% of their normal hours) with, it’s critical to note, no reduction in pay.

    Marie Claire has long advocated flexible working rights, supporting writer Anna Whitehouse with her Flex Appeal campaign, which started in 2019 when she was denied flexible working and told it would ‘open the floodgates’ to others seeking it.

    But for the majority, it was Covid-19 that truly changed attitudes towards the workplace, because the pandemic had so profoundly affected people’s working lives.

    Prioritise flexible working

    In 2020 Marie Claire‘s first Future of Work collaboration with LinkedIn explored how the British population felt about the prospect of returning to the pre-pandemic routine.

    The message was clear: employers need to prioritise flexible working going forward, because we realised we could work from home successfully (and that was during an unimaginably stressful period).

    The future of work

    The believed benefits of the four-day working week include:

    • More productivity through greater focus
    • Drive to adopt more efficient processes
    • Greater mental health through more time spent with family or on passions

    As with all trials, it’s important to recognise the potential negative effects – less manageable workloads, less breaks and longer hours, but I hope this pioneering movement will help shape the future of work for the better.

    Work-life balance

    It is currently impossible to have a work-life balance when we work five days and have two days off. Where is the logic? In my opinion, the four-day working week is less about motivating me to work harder – I already work hard, thank you. The four-day working week is actually about giving people enough free time to be healthy, happy and fulfilled.

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