A four-day work week pilot was successful, but will it catch on?

Fifteen percent of employees who took part in the trial said that no amount of money would convince them to accept a job with a five-day workweek. (Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Dozens of companies there took part in the world’s largest trial of the four-day workweek — and a majority of supervisors and employees liked it so much they’ve decided to keep the arrangement. In fact, 15 percent of the employees who participated said “no amount of money” would convince them to go back to working five days a week.

Companies that participated could adopt different methods to “meaningfully” shorten their employees’ workweeks — from giving them one day a week off to reducing their working days in a year to average out to 32 hours per week — but had to ensure the employees still received 100 percent of their pay.

The Non Profit who conducted the research study, 4dayweekglobal says, “4 Day Week Global is a not-for-profit community established by Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart to provide a platform for like-minded people who are interested in supporting the idea of the 4 day week as a part of the future of work. This idea was born out of the waves of attention we received from around the world in reaction to our successful program launched at Perpetual Guardian in 2018.

There is precedent for a large-scale change in the standard workweek: As The Washington Post has previously noted, before the Great Depression, it wasn’t uncommon for employees in the United States to work six-day weeks. The 40-hour workweek was first codified into U.S. law in 1938. The argument put forward by groups such as 4 Day Week Global is that “we’re overdue for an update.”

“We feel really encouraged by the results, which showed the many ways companies were turning the four-day week from a dream into a realistic policy, with multiple benefits,” David Frayne, a research associate at University of Cambridge who worked on the trial, said in a statement. “We think there is a lot here that ought to motivate other companies and industries to give it a try,” Frayne added.


“I think the real question is: Why five days? I haven’t heard anybody give me a reason why we work five days other than tradition. What I think the trial has proved is that working in a way that is most applicable to your organization to achieve the sweet spot of productivity, the best productivity for the time, that’s what you’ve got to me aiming at.” NPR

Washington Post