Four-day work week on trial in the UK
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Over the course of the pandemic, enterprises have bounced back-and-forth on their office return plans, while (intentionally or not) experimenting with new hybrid work schedules to strike a balance between worker safety, comfort and productivity.

One of the biggest takeaways from this forced-trial in hybrid work is that whether in the office or not, clocking in from 9am to 5pm, 5 days a week doesn’t necessarily deliver the best work, let alone employee satisfaction.

To test this theory, a pilot program is being launched in the United Kingdom that offers workers a four-day working week for six months at 100 percent of the pay they received in the traditional 9-to-5 setting. The pilot is being studied by researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College, and Oxford University, along with not-for-profit organization 4 Day Week Global, UK think tank Autonomy, and the 4 Day Week UK Campaign.

So far, 30 UK businesses have signed up to take part in the trial, which will run from June to December 2022, and welcomes businesses outside of the UK to take part .

The goal is to develop “productivity-focused strategies” that allow workers to focus on their output opposed to watching the clock.

“The four-day week challenges the current model of work and helps companies move away from simply measuring how long people are ‘at work’, to a sharper focus on the output being produced. 2022 will be the year that heralds in this bold new future of work,” said Joe O’Connor, Pilot Programme Manager for 4 Day Week Global.

O’Connor’s group is specifically testing the effects of the 100:80:100 model, which is the idea that workers can get 100 percent of their pay for 80 percent of their time by meeting 100 percent of their productivity goals.

This study is one of many over the past few years that have tested out four-day work weeks in a bid to give workers more agency without hindering their employers. In fact, almost all major studies on the four-day work week have actually benefited the employer significantly: In 2019, Microsoft Japan trialled a four-day week and productivity jumped by nearly 40 percent.

Similarly, Iceland made headlines last year when the results were published on the country’s years-long trial of the 4-day work week. From 2015 to 2019, Icelandic residents took part in the world’s largest trial of a shorter working week and participants ended up happier, healthier, and more productive in almost all focus areas.

But for all the benefits a shorter work week may have for employees at large, there’s the reality that more flexible schedules call for more agile, flexible IT departments to solve performance issues that are prevalent in a hybrid work world.

If workers are forgoing their commute and staying home to make the most of their time in a four-day work week trial, for instance, it’s incumbent on their network or IT team to ensure that this worker can safely access network resources. In many cases, this includes sending network traffic over the public internet, or across network pathways where IT teams may have little control over performance.

Similarly, if businesses are going to support widespread remote work at-scale, they need to deploy entirely new network security infrastructure (ie. SASE) to prevent security and trust issues from plaguing the larger workforce.

Underpinning all of this is network visibility that allows IT teams to actively and passively monitor all network resources and users to quickly react when problems are reported and suss out potential productivity roadblocks before they impact end users.


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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: security , observability , visibility , network management , network performance monitoring , hybrid work , remote work , work from anywhere , work from home