Third of companies say four-day week inevitable within 10 years

One third of UK companies believe the four-day week will become a reality for most workers within the next ten years.

However, nearly every firm planning to reduce working hours over the next three years also plans to cut pay.

Just 1 per cent of employers plan to reduce working hours without reducing pay, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)

>See also: What small businesses think of the four-day working week

Although nearly one third of workers (31 per cent) would like to work fewer hours, only 11 per cent are willing to take a pay cut.

For most companies, any plan to move to a four-day week without reducing pay would depend on their organisation either improving efficiency or working smarter (66 per cent) or adopting more technology (68 per cent).

Indeed, productivity measured in terms of volume of work/outputs fell by 30 per cent for those companies which have reduced hours – just at a time when Britain’s woeful productivity record is back in the spotlight and the Government is banging the drum for growth.

That said, it is worth pointing out that the whole idea of a weekend is a relatively modern construct. Most factories used to run on Saturday mornings, knocking off at lunchtime. The US officially adopted the five-day working week in 1932, in a bid to counter unemployment caused by the Great Depression. In Britain, Boots the chemist adopted a five-day working week in 1934.

Major sticking point

Jonathan Boys, senior labour market economist at the CIPD, said: “The major sticking point is the need to increase productivity by a whopping 25 per cent to make up for the output lost from fewer days of work.”

A major trial in the UK being run by the 4 Day Week campaign found that most planned to keep the shorter working hours when the six-month experiment ended. Around 86 per cent of respondents in a trial of more than 70 firms planned to keep the four-day week.

The concept of the four-day week also faces a challenge as the cost-of-living crisis bites. People are more likely to be looking to increase hours, not reduce them, in order to boost their income.

The findings are based on a survey of 2,000 employers and ONS Labour Force Survey data on people’s working hours.

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