The Test of Time

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Thousands of British employees began the world’s biggest trial of the four-day work week this week, the latest effort to reduce working time following the impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington Post reported.

The six-month trial will include more than 3,300 workers from 70 companies, ranging from fish-and-chip shops to big corporations. Employees will work 80 percent of their hours for 100 percent of their pay.

Researchers said the new trial will monitor how the reduced workweek affects productivity, employee well-being and how it impacts the environment and gender equality.

The experiment comes as many employers grapple with pandemic burnout and the “Great Resignation” phenomenon that has led to thousands of workers leaving their jobs over issues such as low pay and a lack of advancement opportunities.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognizing that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, output-focused working is the vehicle to give them a competitive edge,” said Joe O’Connor, chief executive of 4 Day Week Global, which is coordinating the trial.

Britain is the latest country to experiment with a shorter workweek.

Similar trials are set to begin in Spain, Australia and the United States this year. Meanwhile, Belgium announced plans in February to allow employees the option to request a four-day workweek.

Between 2015 and 2019, a number of large-scale trials of a four-day workweek in Iceland indicated that workers were more productive and happier, with fewer incidences of stress and burnout.

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