With remote work levels leveling off, companies are starting to experiment with more permanent and unique work arrangements.

Employers are learning that if they can rethink where their employees work, they can also rethink how much employees work. For example, the Netherlands has pushed to make WFH a legal right, while other countries are opting for split shifts. Several major companies are actively testing or have permanently implemented a four-day week.

The Case For Change

Juliet Schor, an economist and Sociology Professor at Boston College, believes the traditional approach to work must be redesigned. She is spearheading four-day week experiments in nations such as the United States and Ireland, with overwhelmingly good outcomes thus far, including greater employer and customer happiness, profit growth, and reduced turnover.

Schor is advocating for a four-day, 32-hour work week (with five days of compensation) to demonstrate how this approach could address critical issues such as employee productivity, burnout, and climate change. In a recent TED talk, Schor discusses how businesses and governments can collaborate to make the four-day workweek the model for the future of work:

The World’s Largest Four-Day Workweek Trial

Over seventy UK businesses and 3,300 employees are currently experimenting with a four-day workweek. The trial started at the beginning of June and is being run by the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global with support from researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College, and Oxford University. By the midpoint of the six-month study, the majority of companies indicated there has been no decline in productivity, while some even report gains in output:

“The four-day week [pilot] has been transformational for us so far. We’ve been delighted to see productivity and output increase and have also been able to make it work in our education and care services, which we thought would be far more challenging. While it’s still early days, our confidence in continuing beyond the trial is growing and the impact on colleague wellbeing has been palpable.” – Sharon Platts, Chief People Officer for Outcomes First Group

Companies are experiencing the side effects of transitioning to new workflows. Samantha Losey, managing director at Unity, a public relations agency in London, told CNN Business that the first week was “genuinely chaotic,” with her team unprepared for the shorter work handovers. However, her team is finding ways to make it work. The company banned all internal meetings longer than five minutes, keeps all client meetings to 30 minutes and has introduced a “traffic light” system to prevent unnecessary disturbances — colleagues have a light on their desk, and set it to ‘green’ if they are happy to talk, ‘amber’ if they are busy but available to speak, and ‘red’ if they do not want to be interrupted.

At this point in the trial, participating companies are reporting:

  • 88% of respondents indicated that the four-day week is working “well” for their firm.
  • 46% of respondents say their business productivity has “remained roughly the same,” 34% say it has “somewhat improved,” and 15% say it has “improved greatly.”
  • 86% of respondents indicated that they would be ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to consider retaining the four-day week policy following the trial period.


The initial results from the UK pilot and similar trials are promising. Demonstrating that companies can achieve the same or greater levels of productivity is a critical step for other employers to follow suit and adopt the model on a larger scale.

Ultimately, the right choice for any company will depend on several factors ranging from the industry it operates in to its company culture to its employees’ work styles and preferences. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Companies must carefully consider the pros and cons of any working arrangement and decide what is the best fit for their organization.

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