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Four-day working taking place of pay increases to keep staff happy

Working a four-day week with no loss of pay is becoming more prevalent as employers offer alternative solutions to meet demands for salary increases to match soaring inflation.

More than a hundred British companies and organisations have become permanently accredited four-day working week employers since the pandemic. Companies in sectors including manufacturing, architecture, technology, retail, housing, marketing, construction and events have been accredited in the past 18 months through the 4 Day Week Campaign’s employer accreditation scheme.

The two biggest companies to sign up are the global marketing company Awin and Atom Bank, each of which has about 450 employees in the UK.

The accreditation scheme cites a four-day working week of 32 hours with no loss as the gold standard and a 35-hour week as silver standard. Organisations can gain accreditation only if they are able to demonstrate a genuine reduction in working hours.

Further evidence of a move beyond the traditional 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday working week was also provided yesterday in a new report.

According to the report from Women in Banking and Finance and the London School of Economics (LSE), financial and professional services are moving towards more bespoke working models that boost efficiency and give workers more autonomy.

The result has been a move away from presenteeism as a marker of productivity. The 100 workers interviewed insisted that a “remote first” move either had no impact on productivity or had a positive impact.

The report, which covered workers at companies including BlackRock, Goldman Sachs and Schroders, said the financial sector was going far beyond the four-day work week that is being trialled in many firms in the UK.

Grace Lordan, 42, at the LSE, said: “Firms that are adopting a ‘remote first’ approach, expecting their workers to be in the office only to collaborate or fulfil operational needs, are those that can attract and retain the most diverse talent, particularly women.

“Firms that demand their employees are in the office for no reason will lose out on diverse talent pools. These demands are also ego-driven rather than having the best interests of the business in mind.”

The four-day week accreditation scheme is separate from the biggest four-day week pilot taking place in the UK, involving more than 70 companies and 3,300 workers.It is due to end at the beginning of next month, after running for six months.

Also running pilots early next year will be the Scottish government and a local authority trial run by South Cambridgeshire district council.

Joe Ryle, 31, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said that accrediting a hundred employers demonstrated the momentum gathering behind a four-day week and he wanted it to become the normal way of working by the end of the decade.

“With many businesses struggling to afford 10 per cent inflation pay rises, we’re starting to see increasing evidence that a four-day week with no loss of pay is being offered as an alternative solution,” he said.

Adam Ross, 41, chief executive of Awin, described the six-month trial as “one of the most transformative initiatives we’ve seen in the history of the company”. Staff wellness and wellbeing had been boosted and its customer service had also benefited.

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