Four-day week

Analysis by independent think tank Autonomy, suggests a majority of UK firms employing more than 50 workers could afford to introduce a carefully designed four-day working week.

Autonomy, which specialises in the future of work and economic planning, has called on government to investigate ways of rolling out a four-day week, starting with the public sector. The think tank believes such a move would help boost productivity, enhance wellbeing and potentially prevent a steep rise in unemployment.

In a recent report it suggests that, with proper planning, most companies could prosper if staff worked fewer hours for the same pay. While its analysis suggests some firms in sectors with high labour costs and thin profit margins might struggle if changes were implemented too quickly, the think tank found that most of the 50,000 firms studied would cope through a combination of higher productivity or rising prices.

Autonomy’s Director of Research Will Stronge said, “For the large majority of firms, reducing working hours is an entirely realistic goal. Any policy push will have to be carefully designed, and different strategies would need to be deployed for different industries. However, what is remarkable is that if it happened overnight, with no planning, most firms would still remain profitable.”