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Could a 4-Day Workweek Become Reality? The World's Biggest Trial Just Started

Employees will work 80% of their normal hours while still receiving their full paychecks

10'000 Hours | Digitalvision | Getty Images

Many of us can relate to our boss asking us to work extra hours — but what if employers told us to take an extra day off?

The four-day workweek is a dream for many employees worldwide, and the U.K. is the latest country to give it a try. 

More than 70 companies and organizations across the U.K. are trialing a four-day workweek as part of a new pilot program created by the nonprofit group 4 Day Week Global, in partnership with the think tank Autonomy and researchers from Oxford University, Cambridge University and Boston College.

More than 3,300 employees across several sectors, including banking, marketing, recruiting, retail and even a fish-and-chip restaurant, are participating in the trial, which runs from June to December 2022.

Participants will receive full pay for working 80% of their usual hours, while committing to maintain 100% productivity, according to the program’s website.

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The idea is that having an extra day to recharge will increase employee morale, focus and engagement during the days they are at work. 

Throughout the program, which is the world’s largest four-day workweek trial to date, researchers will monitor metrics surrounding productivity and employee well-being.

This large-scale trial is following in the footsteps of similar pilot programs in the United States, Iceland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Israel and Japan.

The crowdfunding platform Kickstarter is one of the 38 companies taking part in the U.S. and Canada trial, which launched in April and will run through September.

By introducing a shorter week, Kickstarter hopes to keep managers and employees “focused on the priorities,” the company’s chief strategy officer, Jon Leland, told CNBC in April.

He says this will ensure that “when (employees) do show up, they know exactly what they can do, they can do it, and then they can leave and go back to their families.”

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