In the battle for a four-day workweek employees seem ready to put their money where their mouth is—they’ll take a pay cut if it means having an extra day of free time.
Global job board Indeed found that two-thirds of workers in the U.K. would accept a slash to their pay packet in order to gain a better work-life balance and more flexible working opportunities.
The years-long fight for a shorter working week has typically fallen on the premise that workers wouldn’t want to sacrifice any pay to produce the same work they do over five days.
But the latest data suggests that—in the UK at least—workers would take that hit.
“As more businesses are beginning a full or partial return to the office, the findings show that employers who create flexible working policies may be better able to attract and retain workers,” said Danny Stacy, Indeed’s U.K. head of talent intelligence.
“While workers wanting fair pay is unsurprising, the desire for flexibility also points to the growing expectation that employers design jobs that allow better work-life balance, with many workers even willing to sacrifice pay for this.”
It’s a model which has been proven to work not just for staff, but for businesses too.
Last year, the U.K. piloted the world’s biggest-ever four-day week trial, made up of more than 60 companies and nearly 3,000 employees. Most businesses maintained or improved their productivity, while the trial also revealed that quit rates among staff plummeted.
Of the businesses involved in the survey, the majority chose to continue with the scheme.
Only a matter of time
Nearly a third of the 5,000 people Indeed spoke to thought a four-day workweek would eventually become the norm anyway, adding they believe their current workload could be achieved in that timeframe.
Experts leading the global economy have suggested they agree.
JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon predicts even less than four days a week—he said earlier this month the next generation of employees will log in just 3.5 days a week thanks to AI.
Dimon was echoed by Christopher Pissarides, a professor at the London School of Economics specializing in automation at work.
Pissarides is increasingly confident that tools like ChatGPT can help workers achieve the same productivity over four days instead of five.
“We could increase our well-being generally from work and we could take off more leisure. We could move to a four-day week easily,” Pissarides told a conference in Glasgow.
However, despite the consensus, less than 1% of job postings on the job board currently advertise a four-day week.
Just a handful of companies across a few countries are embracing the concept of a shortened workweek, which typically means employees working 33 hours a week instead of 38.
And these reduced hours are packed with more vital tasks, studies suggest.
Research by non-profit advocacy group 4 Day Week Global suggested people who work five days spend one achieving nothing because their time is taken up by pointless meetings—when they work less, they get more essential work done.
It’s not just the private sector that is experimenting with such trials. Scotland’s civil service, made up of more than 47,000 employees, is reportedly planning to test a reduced-days week in order to improve the work-life balance of its employees and promote productivity.