From Monday, 70 companies in the UK have given their 3,300 employees a three-day weekend. They won’t see any reduction in pay, though they are expected to maintain their standard levels of productivity.  

The trial, which will run from June to December, has been organised by academics at Oxford and Cambridge universities and Boston College in the United States. A wide range of businesses and non-profit organisations are taking part, including a fish and chip shop, a software firm, and Kent-based Charity Bank.

While the trial is planned to run for just six months initially, it may well see many firms adopt a four-day work week permanently. 

“The pandemic has taught many of us that long-standing working practices can change rapidly, including the reliance on physical office space,” said Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Royal Society of Biology.  

“The four-day week pilot is a fantastic opportunity to challenge another long-standing truism – that to deliver quality you must work long hours. RSB believes that joining the vanguard of a four-day working week movement will position us as a leading employer, allow us to retain and attract the best staff and to continue to deliver impact and value. It will be another important string in the bow of flexible working leading to greater diversity of thought and people.”