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A third of employers believe the four-day week will happen for most UK workers in the next ten years, but the CIPD warns there’s still more needed to pave the way.

According to the CIPD Four Day Week report, more experimentation, smarter working practices and greater investment in technology is needed to make the four-day week a reality.

Of the businesses surveyed,10% reported that they have reduced working hours without cutting pay for the whole or a significant part of their workforce over the last five years, although of these, under half of employers (42%) did so as a result of the furlough scheme.

Among the firms that have reduced working hours, the main drivers cited were:

  • To increase employee well-being (36%)
  • Decreased demand for products or services (32%)
  • To help with recruitment and retention (30%) 

Jonathan Boys, senior labour market economist at the CIPD, commented on the findings, “The rationale behind the move for the four-day week is a positive one, to give people more leisure time and improve their wellbeing while increasing their productivity to compensate.

“The current trials are an attempt to plug the evidence gap, help provide insights for other employers that would like to make the shift to the four-day week and make a stronger case for the benefits. Some businesses will find this easier than others depending on their size and sector.”

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Jonathon added, “The major sticking point is the need to increase productivity by a whopping 25% to make up for the output lost from fewer days of work. This point came through in our findings with a majority of employers saying they would need to work smarter and adopt new technology in order to reduce working hours without cutting pay.

“The four-day week also faces a challenge as the cost-of-living crisis bites. People may very well look to increase their hours to boost their income.  Greater flexibility in work has the potential to have an overall positive impact on working lives across many sectors. However, this kind of flexibility will be easier for some businesses than others. Businesses should continue to listen to their workforce, look at the evidence and consider how they can pilot new ways of working.”

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