Seventy companies are participating in the scheme, which involves no loss of pay, and will last six months.
Organisers say it is the biggest four-day week pilot to take place anywhere in the world, and they are working alongside university researchers who will measure the impact on productivity and the wellbeing of staff.
Which companies are taking part?
Companies taking part provide products and services ranging from education to workplace consultancy to professional development and legal training.
The employers that have been named so far include:
Hutch - game developers
Yo Telecom - telecoms services
Adzooma - online marketing company
Pressure Drop Brewing - brewery
Happy - workplace consultancy services
Platten’s Fish and Chips - chip shop in Norfolk
Eurowagens - car parts retailer
Bookishly - online book and gifts shop
Outcomes First Group - education and foster care services
NeatClean - eco cleaning products firm
5 Squirrels - skincare branding consultancy
Salamandra - animation studios
Girling Jones - recruitment firm
AKA Case Management - case management firm
IE Brand & Digital - marketing company
Helping Hands - at-home care services
Trio Media - marketing agency
Literal Humans - marketing agency
Physiquipe - rehabilitation tech firm
Tyler Grange - landscape planning consultancy
Timberlake Consultants – software engineering firm
Royal Society of Biology - professional body
Everledge - tech firm
Scotland’s International Development Alliance - industry body for Scottish charities
Amplitude - tech firm
Stemette Futures - education organisation
Comcen - computer supplies retailer
We Are Purposeful - activism organisation
How will the four day week work?
The trial is being organised by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.
Firms taking part will give 100% of workers’ pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100% productivity.
Researchers will work with each participating organisation to measure the impact on productivity and the wellbeing of its workers, as well as the impact on the environment and gender equality.
What has been said about the trial?
Joe O’Connor, chief executive of 4 Day Week Global, said the UK is “at the crest of a wave of global momentum behind the four-day week.”
He added: “As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognising that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, output-focused working is the vehicle to give them a competitive edge.
“The impact of the ‘great resignation’ is now proving that workers from a diverse range of industries can produce better outcomes while working shorter and smarter.”
Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College, and lead researcher on the pilot, said: “We’ll be analysing how employees respond to having an extra day off, in terms of stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, health, sleep, energy use, travel and many other aspects of life.
“The four-day week is generally considered to be a triple dividend policy – helping employees, companies, and the climate.”
She added: “Our research efforts will be digging into all of this.”
Ed Siegel, chief executive of Charity Bank, which is taking part in the trial, said: “We have long been a champion of flexible working, but the pandemic really moved the goalposts in this regard. For Charity Bank the move to a four-day week seems a natural next step.
“The 20th-century concept of a five-day working week is no longer the best fit for 21st-century business.”
He added: “We firmly believe that a four-day week with no change to salary or benefits will create a happier workforce and will have an equally positive impact on business productivity, customer experience and our social mission.”
Government-backed four-day week trials are also due to begin later this year in Spain and Scotland.