Three-quarters of workers in favour of compressed working week, research finds

Majority of workers would be happy to work the same hours over four days, but experts warn management practices would also have to adapt

Nearly three-quarters of workers would be happy to work a compressed four-day week, a survey has found.

The poll of 1,000 office workers, conducted by Velocity Smart Technology, found 72 per cent would be willing to work the same hours for the same pay but over four days instead of five.

More than half (52 per cent) said they believed working a compressed four-day week would improve their organisation’s productivity, while a third (34 per cent) said that a general increase in flexible work options has already improved their mental health.

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Anthony Lamoureux, CEO of Velocity Smart Technology, said the findings show employees are “confident in their ability to get the job done” even when working a four-day week. He added that a four-day week could help organisations move away from “simply measuring how long people are ‘at work’, to a sharper focus on the output being produced”.

But, Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, cautioned that without changes in management practices, firms would be unlikely to see a productivity shift just from moving to a four-day week.

“It is likely that the shift would need to be accompanied by improvements in people management practices to enable employees to work smarter rather than harder when hours are reduced and to help make the necessary boost to productivity to compensate for a cut in working time without compromising pay,” he said.

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Willmott added that not all sectors, businesses or even departments within organisations would experience the shift to a four-day week in the same way. “Public services and those with 24/7 operations, would also find the transition to a shorter working week more challenging than others because of the need to recruit additional staff,” he said.

The findings come as more UK employers demonstrate interest in a four-day working week. Recently, business coalition the 4 Day Week Campaign launched a pilot programme involving more than 30 UK companies and university researchers which aims to study some of the impacts of a four-day week on businesses and individuals.

However, previous research has suggested a four-day week might not be a panacea for improving work-life balance or tackling other social issues.

Research released last year found factors including feeling that work is meaningful, having good workplace relationships and having enough resources and time to complete work were the most important factors in determining employee wellbeing, cautioning that the current debate “over-emphasised that reduced quantity of working would result in better mental health of employees and address other social problems”.