Words: Ellen Kenny
All staff reported an improved work-life balance, a better sleep schedule and less burnout thanks to the four-day work week
The results of Ireland’s first four-day work week trial are in, and the results are resoundingly in favour of a reduced work schedule. 100 per cent of employees reported that they would like to continue a reduced work schedule. 75 per cent of companies involved have opted to continue the four-day work week, while the remaining 25 per cent are continuing the reduced work schedule but have not made any long-term commitments just yet.
The study by Four-Day Week Ireland, University College Dublin (UCD) and Boston College trialled a reduced work week with 12 different companies in different industries and evaluated the results. Employees worked 80 per cent of their previous hours while still earning 100 per cent of their wages. According to the published results, a reduced work week yielded positive results for employees and employers.
There were significant improvements across a wide range of well-being metrics, including positive affect, work-family and work-life balance, and several domains of life satisfaction
Stress, burnout, fatigue, and work-family conflict significantly declined among employees working four days a week. Average sleep time also increased from 7.02 hours a night to 7.72 hours.
Time spent on hobbies outside of work, including exercise, increased by 36 minutes per week thanks to reduced working week. A four-day work week also led to increased pro-environmental behaviour, including recycling more, walking and cycling instead of driving, educating others about the environment, and volunteering.
According to the study, the four-day work week was particularly beneficial to women; they reported a significantly greater improvement in life satisfaction, had larger gains in sleep time, and reported feeling more secure in their employment.
A non-profit, a manufacturing company, a recruiting agency, an engineering firm and an IT service provider were among the companies that took part.
Seven companies provided data on revenue. Six out of seven companies reported an increase in their monthly revenue, with only one seeing a decline. Four organisations tracked company industry-specific productivity metrics, and all observed improvements.
On a scale of one to ten, the companies’ average rating for the trial was 9.2. Nine of the 12 companies are now committed to continuing with the four-day-week schedule. The other three are also planning to continue but have not committed to continuing long-term yet.
Lead researcher on the trial Professor Orla Kelly said, “Our findings hold important lessons for the future of work in this country.”
General Secretary of Fórsa Kevin Callinan said the results of this study “highlights the need for a more balanced work-life schedule”.
“In today’s working world there’s a mismatch between the amount of time we spend working and the time we spend with our families and friends. The four-day week can be at the forefront of a new age of work, providing transformative social benefits without losing pay or productivity.”
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