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Trial of a four-day work week gets 100% success rating with Irish employees

Staff in the trial experienced less burnout and sleep deprivation.

IRELAND’S FIRST COORDINATED reduced worktime trial showed that most companies involved in the trial opted to continue the four-day work week longterm, after high levels of satisfaction were reported by staff.

The project, backed by Fórsa and carried out in partnership by Four-Day Week Ireland, University College Dublin (UCD), and Boston College, examined the financial, social, and environmental impact that a four-day working week would have on businesses and employees in Ireland.

It said that the project showed 100% of employees would like to continue a reduced work schedule and significant improvements were recorded across a wide range of well-being metrics, including positive affect, work-family balance and work-life balance.

Stress, burnout, fatigue, and work-family conflict significantly declined and employees’ average sleep time increased from 7.02 hours a night to 7.72 hours.

Management were also pleased with the outcome of the trial; in terms of productivity, and overall experience. On a scale of 1-10 the companies’ average rating for the trial was 9.2.

All of the 12 participating companies are planning to continue with the four-day week schedule, although three have not committed to the plan on a long-term basis.

A non-profit, a manufacturing company, a recruiting agency, an engineering firm and an IT service provider were among the companies that took part.

Four organisations tracked productivity metrics, and all observed improvements while two companies that tracked energy usage recorded reductions during the duration of the trial.

Out of seven companies that made their revenue data available for researchers, six reported growth in revenue, while one had lost revenue. 

The trial was particularly successful for female employees.

They reported a significantly greater improvement in life satisfaction, had larger gains in sleep time, and reported feeling more secure in their employment.

The research will be presented by UCD’s Dr Orla Kelly at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce at 11.30am today, with Professor Juliet Schor of Boston College providing a global overview of the pilot programme’s progress. 

Speaking ahead of the launch event, Dr Orla Kelly said that the research can provide key learnings and lessons into the future of work in Ireland: “We are pleased to release the results of Ireland’s first coordinated reduced worktime trial.

“All participating organisations plan to continue the reduced work schedule. Productivity levels are up. We found significant improvements across a wide range of well-being metrics, including positive affect, work-family and work-life balance. Levels of sleep deprivation have also fallen dramatically. We observed an increase across three forms of pro-environmental behaviour.”

General Secretary of Fórsa, Kevin Callinan also welcomed the research and highlighted the potential for a better future for workers: “The four-day-week is an example of how a concept that many have questioned, can genuinely improve the future for workers. The research presented today highlights the need for a more balanced work-life schedule.

“In today’s working world there’s a mismatch between the amount of time we spend working and the time we spend with our families and friends. The four-day week can be at the forefront of a new age of work, providing transformative social benefits without losing pay or productivity”, said Kevin.

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