Graham Birkenhead, February 28 2023

Ready for the 4-day Week?

The UK has recently carried out a trial-based study into the practicalities and impacts of a 4-day week - and the results are just in.

The idea of a 4-day week has been around for quite a long time - with much anecdotal evidence suggesting that there could be considerable benefit.   This latest trial involved over 70 companies of all sorts and sizes and was carried out with more scientific rigour.  There have been many similar trials in other countries too.  Over 85% of participating companies want to keep the 4-day workweek.

So, what benefits does it create?


So, how does it work?   How do they do it?

Let's first consider what the 4-day work week isn't:

However, it does require a shift in mindset about what work is; moving from the idea that work equates directly to hours, to the idea that it’s all about value delivered. And yes, even accountants and lawyers who build their whole culture around the 'billable hour', are making that change. 

It requires that people work more efficiently. It is well known in the ‘process improvement’ world that approximately 70% of all our activity in a working day adds absolutely no value to the end-product or customer.  As a process improvement consultant, I have often observed how inefficiently people work, especially when they have a certain number of hours (like a working day) to fill which they do by being busy - rather than productive.  I have always found that people often know how inefficiently they work, and given the opportunity and incentive, they will find ways to work far more efficiently.   In many of the companies that have made the successful transition to the 4-day week, it's the staff that have identified the means.

There have been a few cases where it just hasn't worked; an underlying cause in many of these has been management 'over-managing' - adding to employee stress.

A final thought

In these days of companies trying to attract the best people from a shrinking pool and then getting the best out of them, maybe the 4-day week will soon become one of the 'norms' that potential star employees are looking for.

Are you ready to consider the 4-day week?


Written by

Graham Birkenhead


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