A six-month program that began in the UK on Monday will test the effects of the four-day working week on thousands of workers across 70 companies. Yes, you heard that right.
More than 3,300 workers will participate in the trial, making it the largest test of the four-day workweek. Several industries will be involved, including banking, health care, marketing, and retail—and through interviews, surveys, and internal productivity measures, researchers will determine if we have all been clocking in on Fridays for our whole adult lives for absolutely no reason. The results of the trial will be announced sometime in 2023.
As creative freelancers, we have control over our working hours so how does this affect us? It’s no surprise to the self-employed and small businesses, who organise their work life around other commitments such as childcare, less time in work mode can actually increase productivity, the acceptance of this by bigger business means that the four day week could soon become the norm for all workers.
In France, a 35-hour working week cap has been the law since 2000. I used to live in Paris and as a native Londoner, I can safely say that the work-life balance in France is much healthier.
Trials of lighter work schedules haven’t always been successful for both employees and employers, though: A two-year trial of a six-hour workday in one of Sweden’s largest cities in 2017 left workers happier, healthier, and more productive, but the practice was deemed too expensive due to the new hires needed to fill gaps in time.
As freelancers, while we aren’t part of the general workforce, we are still affected by the pressures of traditional work. We communicate with freelancers and non-freelancers alike and perhaps a four day week will space out the stress in a multitude of industries.