Australian companies kick off four-day work week pilot

Expert says trial looks 'very encouraging' so far

Australian companies kick off four-day work week pilot

Several Australian companies have already commenced their four-day working week trial with their employees receiving no cut to their pay.

Back in June, HRD reported about the plans and preparations leading up to the trial run, then described as “a brave step towards ultimate work-life balance.”

The said pilot study was recently launched in early August and would run for six months with 20 participating companies from Australia and New Zealand, a spokesperson for not-for-profit 4 Day Week Global told 7NEWS.com.au.

Despite the Australian trials only running for a few weeks, the spokesperson told the news outlet that so far, the study looks “very encouraging.”

Four-day working week

According to the report, the pilot program, run by 4 Day Week Global in collaboration with Auckland University of Technology, University of Queensland, University of Sydney, and Boston College, includes companies in industries varying from finance to fashion.

While employees involved in the pilot study receive 100% of their pay for working only 80% of their usual week, they must maintain 100% of their work productivity in exchange, the news outlet reported.

Andrew Barnes, the entrepreneur who envisioned the four-day week and founded the 4 Day Week Global, said the program is more than the work-life balance and productivity, 7NEWS.com.au reported.

“We recognised well before the pandemic that the five-day week is no longer fit for purpose, and as we trialled and studied the four-day week it became clear that this is a necessary part of the solution to restore climate balance, among many other documented benefits,” Barnes said, according to the news outlet.

“We simply cannot go on as we have been, and we welcome the forward-thinking companies and business leaders in Australasia who are driving this change and showing the path forward,” he added.

Similar trials across the world

In recent years, workers in many countries have made several calls to shorten the working week, and as employees switched to a remote work set-up during the pandemic, calls for further flexibility only strengthened.

Based on 7NEWS.com.au’s report, the United Kingdom (UK) conducted a similar trial where thousands of workers at 70 companies participated in a four-day week trial in June 2022.

The news outlet further reported that identical studies are ongoing in Canada and the US, while the trial in Ireland has already ended.

 

Between 2015 and 2019, Iceland recorded the largest pilot of a shorter working week involving 2,500 public sector workers in two large trials, the report said. It further reported that the study found no decline in workers’ productivity and saw a significant increase in employee well-being.

Meanwhile, according to the report, government-backed trials are set to take place in Spain and Scotland in 2022, the 4 Day Week Campaign said.

Following the trials, 4 Day Week Global CEO Joe O’Connor said that employees have demonstrated that they can work “shorter and smarter,” the news outlet reported.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognising 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,” O’Connor said.

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