The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., Boston College in the U.S., and the London-based think tank Autonomy, as well as 4 Day Week Global and U.K.’s 4 Day Week Campaign.
A total of 61 companies and around 2,900 workers participated in the trial, which took place from June to December 2022, making it the largest trial of the idea so far.
The study found 39 per cent of employees were less stressed after the four-day working week trial, while 71 per cent had reduced levels of burnout at the end of the trial.
“Likewise, levels of anxiety, fatigue and sleep issues decreased, while mental and physical health both improved,” it reads.
Of the 61 companies that participated in the trial, 56 said they are continuing with the four-day working week, with 18 confirming the policy is a permanent change, the report stated.
Joe O’Connor, the director and co-founder of the Toronto-based Work Time Reduction Center of Excellence, said the idea of a four-day working week is not only about changing the number of hours that people work, but also about changing the way that people work.
“Companies that successfully adopt a four-day week often streamline their operations, find efficiencies in their processes, introduce leaner systems,” O’Connor, who is the former CEO of 4 Day Week Global, told Global News.
“They also attack wasteful processes and low value-adding activities like overlong and unnecessary meetings like distractions in the workday or use of technology.”
O’Connor added that the four-day working week has proven to motivate employees to meet the targets of the company.
“The four-day week is something so life-changing and so transformative for employees that it really leads to people being very focused and very motivated in delivering the goals and the targets of the company,” O’Connor said.
The study also found that companies’ revenue remained unchanged during the trial period.
As for 23 organizations that were able to provide data, the study found that companies’ revenue increased marginally by 1.4 per cent on average.
In addition, 24 companies that were able to provide data saw an increase of 35 per cent in revenue when compared with the same six-month period in 2021.
O’Connor said there has been growing interest in Canadian companies to move toward shorter work weeks over the past years.
“This is a growing global movement, and we think there’s a real opportunity for Canada to be right at the forefront of that movement,” O’Connor said.
A survey published in January found 91 per cent of senior managers in corporate Canada polled said they would support a four-day work week for their team.
The survey, published by recruitment firm Robert Half, also found that nearly three-quarters of workers said they would put in four 10-hour days in exchange for an extra day off a week.
O’Connor said leaders eventually need to make the decision of whether they want to be a “proactive pioneer” of this four-day working week global trend.
“In my opinion, the world of work is not going back to the way it was in 2019,” O’Connor said. “The genie is out of the bottle and I think the future of work will absolutely be shorter and it will be smarter.”