For the next six months, thousands of workers in the U.K. are expected to work four days per week in the largest pilot program of its kind.
ABC News' "Start Here” podcast reported that 70 companies will participate in the study. These companies include fish-and-chip shops and digital marketing companies. The study is being coordinated and conducted by three non-profits and labor think-tanks. It also includes researchers from three universities in the U.S.
According to 4 Day Week Global which coordinates the experiment, the more than 3300 participants in the study will receive the same salary and will expect to work 80% of their usual hours while earning the same amount. The hours worked will be reduced.
There are many reasons why companies might choose to have a 4-day work week.
First, the labor market is so tight, employers will offer nearly anything to retain people," Daniel Hamermesh (professor emeritus of Economics at University of Texas) said to ABC News. He also wrote a new study on the rise of the 4-day workweek.
Hamermesh's research shows that the percentage of U.S. workers who work four days per week has steadily grown and tripled in the past 50 years.
He said that people want more leisure and are willing to work less if they have to work fewer hours.
Hamermesh doubts that workers can retain the same productivity if they work only 80% of the day, but he acknowledges that it is possible to be productive. He also notes, "Goofing off on your job is not a bad idea, it's relaxing, and reduces stress."
There have been news reports of similar programs in New Zealand, Scotland, and the United States. Hamermesh, however, hasn't seen any official study, even this one.
Hamermesh points out that there is no control group to compare productivity levels for a 5-day work week with a 4-day work week.
He says that the U.K.'s program "sounds almost like a demonstration and not an experiment."