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The U.K. launches world’s largest four-day workweek trial

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The United Kingdom is making a four-day work week a reality. Beginning June 6, more than 3,300 employees at 70 companies are getting an extra day off each week for six months with the same pay for a work-week experiment resulting in the world’s largest four-day workweek trial.

The “4 Day Week Global” and “4 Day Week UK” campaign came together with the think tank autonomy to lead the experiment. The focus of the experiment is to study how a four-day workweek affects workplace productivity, employee well-being, gender equality and the environment.

Workers must maintain 100 percent of their normal productivity even while working the shortened schedule.

Throughout the pandemic as well as after the pandemic, the ‘Great Resignation‘ was created which resulted in more talks about a four-day workweek.

In a speech in 1965, Richard Nixon, then the nation’s vice president, called for a four-day workweek to improve American families’ lives.

“Our hope is to double everyone’s standard of living in ten years,” he spoke.

Food and beverage, digital marketing, online retail, skincare, animation, automotive supply, banking, IT software training, recruiting and other fields are participating in the experiment due to the widespread labor shortages of workers quitting their jobs, citing a lack of advancement opportunities, low pay, childcare issues, feeling disrespected, a lack of flexibility and other reasons.

Company leaders believe that offering a shortened schedule will give them a “competitive edge” when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees, as Joe O’Connor, 4 Day Week Global’s chief executive officer, tells CBS Money Watch’s Megan Cerullo.

The trial is not the first to implement the program, New Zealand participated in the same experiment in 2018 where it was such a success that Perpetual Guardian, a financial services firm, made the change permanent.

In 2019, Microsoft Japan’s four-day work week experiment resulted in a 40 percent increase in productivity and other efficiency gains.

Crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter is one of the many companies participating which hopes to keep managers and employees “focused on the priorities.”

According to Adam Grant in 2019, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, the United States shouldn’t expect a change like this “anytime soon.”