The 4-Week Working Trial in Britain: Did it work?
May 23, 2023
Paula Moya

Over the past months, a 4-week working trial was conducted in Britain by the non-profit organization Autonomy and researchers from prestigious universities, which aimed to examine the effects of a shorter workweek on employee well-being, productivity, and job satisfaction. The trial involved reducing the workweek of participating companies to 32 hours without a reduction in pay. With the trial now over, what were the findings? Discover the amazing results in this blog post.

With increasing concerns over burnout and work-life balance, many companies are exploring different ways to improve the well-being and productivity of their employees. That’s why in the UK more than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies accepted to take part in the world’s biggest trial of a new working pattern, a 4-day working week. With companies ranging from local companies to large financial firms, they all implemented the 00:80:100 model – 100% of pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintaining 100% productivity.  

According to a report by The Guardian, employees reported feeling less stressed and more productive during the trial. Participants said they were doing the same amount of work in four days as they were doing in five, and they felt they had more time to themselves. Others reported that the shorter workweek allowed them to spend more time with their family, saying, "I feel like I have a better work-life balance now. I can actually enjoy my weekends without feeling like I'm dreading Monday."

Autonomy's report on the trial found that there was a 17.9% increase in productivity during the trial period. Furthermore, the report found that employees were able to maintain their output despite working fewer hours.

The co researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College found that surprisingly, employees reported benefits, with 71 percent less burned out, 39 percent less stressed and 48 percent more satisfied with their job than before the trial.

Of the workers, 60 percent said it was easier to balance work and responsibilities at home, while 73 percent reported increased satisfaction with their lives. Fatigue was down, people were sleeping more, and mental health improved, the findings showed.

For all those who participated in the trial, there was a drop in the likelihood of employees quitting, down 57 percent compared with the same period a year earlier, as well as those calling out sick, down 65 percent from a year ago, according to the findings.

Of the companies, 92 percent reported they would continue with the four-day workweek, with 30 percent saying it’s a permanent change. That includes Platten’s, an important fish and chips restaurant on the English seaside which said it’s sticking with the model permanently.

While this trial was conducted over a relatively short period of time and with a relatively small number of participants, it provides some evidence that a shorter workweek can lead to increased well-being, productivity, and job satisfaction. As Will Stronge, the Director of Research at Autonomy, told The Guardian, "If we really want to tackle our high burnout, low-wage economy, we require bold solutions and a robust government strategy”.

However, it's important to note that a shorter workweek may not be feasible or desirable for all companies and industries. The needs and demands of different businesses and sectors may require longer workweeks. Additionally, some workers may prefer to work longer hours in exchange for higher pay.

In conclusion, the 4-week working trial in Britain provides some promising evidence that a shorter workweek can improve employee well-being and productivity. However, more research and experimentation are needed to determine the viability and effectiveness of this model in different industries and contexts. Ultimately, companies should prioritize the well-being and satisfaction of their employees and explore different models that can help achieve this goal.


Are you interested in giving your employees a benefit that will help you retain the best talent and reduce quitting rates? Contact our team at Noba and book a quick call.