The scheme cut employees’ hours by 20% in a trial over the past 15 monthsMy Another Account/

A Cambridge-backed four-day week trial has been a success, according to university academics behind the initiative, the largest in the UK public sector so far.

The independent report by academics at Cambridge and Salford University claimed that South Cambridgeshire District Council saw an increase in productivity in almost half of the areas where a four day week was implemented.

The report also found that there was a drop in productivity in only two of the 24 areas the trial took place in.

The scheme cut employees’ hours by 20% in a trial over the past 15 months, in an experiment to see if a four-day working week would increase productivity.

The trial caused controversy among local politicians, with Conservative councillor Heather Williams labelling the project “unjust and undemocratic,” and claiming: “I have heard from residents struggling to pay their bills, seeing their council tax going up, only for it to be spent on giving officers a day off every week.”

However, the trial has received support from other local politicians, with Lib Dem councillor John Williams stating that the trial “improved recruitment and retention and positives around health and wellbeing,” labelling it a “brave and pioneering [.] success”.

Professor Brendan Burchell from Cambridge University’s Sociology Department claimed: “These results are supportive of moves to reduce the length of the working week but are not a surprise.”


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“In the past two years, other researchers have studied many private sector employers in the UK and elsewhere that also reported the company’s performance was maintained after a 20 per cent reduction in hours of work; employees and managers can find better ways of doing things to work more efficiently, given the right guidance and motivation,” he continued.

Buchell ran similar research trial in 2022, assessing the private sector alongside academics at Boston University. The trial, running across 61 companies in the UK, showed similar positives from a 4 day working week. Participating companies saw a 65% reduction in sick days and a 57% fall in number of staff leaving with 92% of firms saying they intended to continue with the reduced hours.