Three million UK workers may move to a post-pandemic four-day week study finds


Three million UK workers may move to a post-pandemic four-day week study finds – as PwC tells 22,000 staff to start and finish work when they want

  • Be The Business survey said 18 per cent are considering it to boost productivity
  • Five per cent of small and medium-sized firms already brought it in, study says
  • It comes as 22,000 PwC staff told they can spend half working hours at home

More than a million British companies employing three million workers could move to a four-day working week after the Covid crisis, a study has found.

A survey by the charity Be The Business said 18 per cent of firms are considering the idea to boost employees’ productivity.

And five per cent of small and medium-sized businesses – 300,000 – have already brought it in, analyses by the Autonomy think tank said.

It comes as around 22,000 staff at PwC were told they can spend around half their working hours at home and end shifts early on Fridays in the summer.

The company said the ‘Deal’ would allow workers to spend on average 40 per cent to 60 per cent of their time on remote working, if they choose.

The staff will be expected to spend the rest of the time around their colleagues, either in the PwC offices, or alongside clients (file photo)

The staff will be expected to spend the rest of the time around their colleagues, either in the PwC offices, or alongside clients (file photo)

Director of Research at Autonomy Will Stronge said: ‘All the evidence shows that moving to a four-day week is a win-win for both employers and workers – and this is why we’re seeing increasing adoption across sectors.

‘The best way to create a better world of work after Covid is by addressing how we work at the shop floor level.

‘Going for a four-day working week would bring huge benefits to workers’ mental health, which directly feeds into firm performance.’

Microsoft and Unilever are some of the big firms to have trialled cutting working hours.

Joe Ryle, a campaigner with the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: ‘In the same way that the weekend and the 40 hour week was won nearly a century ago, the time has now come for a four-day, 32 hour working week for all.

He added: ‘The Covid pandemic has effectively killed off the 9-5, 5 day working week.’

The company said it would allow staff to spend on average 40 per cent to 60 per cent of their time on remote working, if they choose. General picture taken today

The company said it would allow staff to spend on average 40 per cent to 60 per cent of their time on remote working, if they choose. General picture taken today

PwC staff will be expected to spend the rest of the time around their colleagues, either in the offices, or alongside clients.

In July and August, a majority of staff will also be able to go home, or power down if they are already at home, at lunchtime on Fridays.

The company said it further plans to let staff decide if they want to change the times they start or finish work on any given day if it is more effective for their working pattern.

Chairman Kevin Ellis said: ‘We’ve long promoted flexible working, and we hope today’s announcements make it much more the norm rather than the exception. We want our people to feel trusted and empowered.

‘These changes are in direct response to soundings from our people, who’ve said they value a mix of working from home and in the office.’

Chairman Kevin Ellis (pictured) said: 'We've long promoted flexible working, and we hope today's announcements make it much more the norm rather than the exception. We want our people to feel trusted and empowered'

Chairman Kevin Ellis (pictured) said: ‘We’ve long promoted flexible working, and we hope today’s announcements make it much more the norm rather than the exception. We want our people to feel trusted and empowered’

He continued: ‘We want to help enshrine new working patterns so they outlast the pandemic.

‘Without conscious planning now there’s a risk we lose the best bits of these new ways of working when the economy opens up again.’

Companies around the UK are being forced to consider how they will return their staff to work when restrictions end.

Under the current schedule, office workers will be able to return to their places of work in June, however this could change if the pandemic shifts.

Other companies which have embraced a hybrid model or full-time home working include BP and Nationwide.

Laura Hinton, chief people officer at PwC, said: ‘The policies will be phased in as lockdown restrictions ease and more people return to the office over the coming months.’

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