Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles These three companies all have one thing in common. Most of their employees only work four days a week. They're part of a growing number of businesses and governments around the world embracing the four-day work week, something that was considered radical just a few years ago. The Covid-19 pandemic appears to have sped up adoption of a shorter working week with workers increasingly demanding a better work-life balance. It's been a game changer for the four-day workweek movement. A lot of managers, now since moving to remote working, have got much more sophisticated ways of measuring productivity, performance, output. So, they're much more focused on quality of output, rather than quantity of hours. The pandemic has brought on this “great resignation,” this incredibly competitive labor market. So, a lot of employers are turning to the four-day work week as something that could potentially give them a competitive advantage when it comes to recruitment and retention. So, what can we learn from the companies and workers that have taken the plunge? My first stop is London-based independent board game creator, Big Potato Games. They first started trialing the four-day working week in 2019 and made it a permanent fixture the following year, writing it into employee contracts. Let's find out more. Tell me about what inspired you to trial a four-day working week? It wasn't actually my idea, or my partner Ben's. It was our other partner, Tris. He'd read this article about a company in New Zealand, who'd done it, and it'd been wildly successful. And he first proposed it to us. And we're like “Nah that's crazy. Like, how would that ever work?” And he said, “No, read the article.” And we read it, and by the time we got to the end, it seemed like a no brainer. Big Potato, which was founded less than a decade ago, says revenue rose 350% since the shorter working week was introduced. In 2021, Big Potato generated a group revenue of £12 million, having sold more than 10 million games across 32 markets around the world. But with a relatively small team of just 40 employees, operating on a four-day week can become challenging during busy periods. For Big Potato, that's the run-up to Christmas. You've got to have a degree of flexibility in certain like, roles within the company. Our customer service team are like phenomenal. But they work on a different pattern and they work on contract hours, so they have a slightly different setup to some of the full-time employees. So, we need to make sure that our customers have always got customer service representation, so that's just never going to work with a four-day week. I think also there's like an unwritten understanding amongst everyone who works here is like, if I'm a designer, and I have a deadline, I'll do it on a Friday, if I have to. Marketing will do a photo shoot on a Friday. So, there's like a good mutual respect amongst all the different teams that every now and again, you're just gonna have to chip in, and it might be on a Friday And that's alright, because it sort of levels itself out across the company over a year. And Big Potato is keen to keep a shorter week in place. It's that little thing that I love, you know, you can say to people "Yeah, we've pulled off a four-day week," because it's something lots of people would love to have, and I hope more people will do eventually. I think it's made a massive difference. I mean, everyone is so busy all the time. Everyone's got loads of things going on. So, it's just that extra day that you can get things like life admin done, then just enjoy your weekend. My next stop is Edinburgh-based food and drink marketing agency LUX. Here, some of the employees work Monday to Thursday, while others work Tuesday to Friday, ensuring every client is covered by a counterpart on that fifth day of the week. LUX launched its four-day week pilot in January 2020, just before the onset of the pandemic. Initially, the agency decided not to tell their clients about the trial. It was imperative for us to be able to measure if it was working or not. So, we set ourselves some kind of KPIs, in terms of how are we going to measure success or not. And one of them was, if our clients don't notice, then that's a huge measure of whether it's working. So yeah, none of our clients did, which was great. In fact, Will says that LUX's profits have risen 30% since they started their pilot, while productivity is up 24%. We have for several years been using a time-tracking software called Toggle. So, we were able to kind of look at over a year-on-year, comparing it to kind of pre-pilot, how was it impacting and how productive were we being. And we could see that, in short, people were working less, but we were making more profit. So, it was another indicator that people were being more efficient with their time. It's not about how many hours you put into it, it's about focusing on outputs. So yeah, we were thrilled to see that an increase in productivity leads to more profitable business. Neither LUX, nor Big Potato Games cut employees' pay with the switch to a shorter working week. Advocates for a four-day working week say it's more environmentally friendly, because it reduces the number of days people commute to work. So, it seems like a fitting model for sustainable events business Legacy Events. The Oxford-based company has operated on four-day week since 2018, in conjunction with a company rebrand. Legacy Events is also paying employees the equivalent of what they would earn in the sector if they were working a five-day week. Sustainability was always meant to be at the core of Legacy Events. I've worked in sustainability for 15 years, and I've talked a lot about employee burnout, about wellbeing, about having a proper work-life balance. And so, it seemed to me if I was starting a company, I should practice what I've preached, and really embed that in there in the company. And so to me, it seems obvious if you're going to have a work-life balance, you need to give people almost as much leisure time as they have at work. So, a four-day week just seemed natural. We're a remote company as well as a four-day week company, which means that our staff don't travel into the office as much as perhaps other companies do. So that means that they have a lower carbon footprint, which benefits us all. But Fairweather has struggled with getting her team to take vacation. They are not feeling burnt out. They don't feel they need to take two or three weeks away from work to go and recharge. But we all need longer times away from work. So, it's clear that there's still a mindset shift needed in the workplace, even among those employees who are able to enjoy this increased flexibility. But it seems like, for the most part, the benefits have outweighed the costs for these companies. It's enabled me to focus on other things on a Monday. I work for charities. I do some voluntary work for a dog charity. It's lovely to have that extra day to just go and visit my friends and family, but also wind down mentally, and I feel really refreshed by the Tuesday and ready to go. And it's not just smaller businesses that are embracing a shorter working week. Consumer goods giant Unilever has trialed a four-day working week in New Zealand, while Microsoft tested it out in Japan for a month. Iceland's long-running trial of shorter working hours between 2015 and 2019 was hailed as an “overwhelming success” and one report in the same year found 86% of Iceland's working population either work shorter weeks or now have the right to. An even bigger trial kicked off in the U.K. in June, with 71 companies and more than 3,300 employees, signed up to test a four-day week over six months. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, who wrote a book on productivity and shorter working hours pointed out in a recent report that there's historical precedent. In as early as 1922, the Ford Motor Company experimented with reducing the work week from six to five days, and it became permanent policy four years later in 1926. So, could we see the four-day working week become the norm in the next five years? What we're seeing is, certainly in certain sectors of the economy, particularly those sectors that maybe traditionally would have been primarily office-based. Maybe now they're either remote first, or they're hybrid. So you could definitely see the four-day workweek going from being an ambition to being the norm, really, really quickly, even in the space of two to three years. Competition can really drive some incredible changes. We're not just seeing this at a corporate level, but at a national level. Attracting the best talent, attracting investment. We could definitely see the four-day workweek becoming something that even countries turn to, and we're seeing governments and policymakers seriously looking at reduced work time as a policy area that they're considering.