Twelve Irish companies who trialled a four-day working week plan to continue the schedule, with a new report labelling the trial a resounding success.
The results of Ireland’s first coordinated reduced worktime trial were published today, with a number of participating firms reporting an increase in revenue and reduced energy usage. Employees also backed the changes, reporting an increase in sleep time and a significant decline in burnout and stress.
The trial was backed by the trade union Fórsa and in partnership with Four-Day Week Ireland, University College Dublin (UCD) and Boston College. It examined the financial, social, and environmental impact that a four-day working week would have on businesses and employees in Ireland. Similar trials are taking place in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
According to the results, nine of the 12 participating companies are committed to continuing with the four-day-week schedule. The other three are also planning to continue, but have not committed to continuing long-term yet. Seven companies provided data on revenue. Six out of seven companies reported their monthly revenue growth, with one seeing a decline.
Orla Kelly of UCD said that the research can provide key learnings and lessons for the future of work in Ireland.
“We found significant improvements across a wide range of well-being metrics, including positive affect, work-family and work-life balance, and several domains of life satisfaction,” she explains. “Conversely, stress, burnout, fatigue, and work-family conflict significantly declined. Levels of sleep deprivation have also fallen dramatically. We observed an increase across three forms of pro-environmental behaviour.”
Amongst participating employees, the reaction was universally positive with 100% wishing to continue with a four-day week. Workers reported an average increase in sleep time from 7.02 hours a night to 7.72 hours. Time doing hobbies (including exercise) grew by 36 minutes a week on average.
The trial was particularly successful for women. They reported a significantly greater improvement in life satisfaction, had larger gains in sleep time, and reported feeling more secure in their employment.
General Secretary of Fórsa, Kevin Callinan said the research highlighted the potential for a better future for workers. “The four-day-week is an example of how a concept that many have questioned, can genuinely improve the future for workers.”
“In today’s working world there’s a mismatch between the amount of time we spend working and the time we spend with our families and friends. The four-day week can be at the forefront of a new age of work, providing transformative social benefits without losing pay or productivity.”