The results might still be being collated, but it’s looking likely that the UK might be headed for a four-day week. That is if the results to date of 4 Day Week Global, the world’s largest four-day workweek experiment are anything to go by. The trial is currently running in partnership with the think tank Autonomy and researchers from Cambridge University, Boston College, and Oxford University across 70 UK-based companies, with over 3,300 workers enjoying the perks of a 32-hour week.
Results, so far, are positive with 86% of participants “likely” to continue the four-day week model once the year-long trial is over. While productivity across the board has remained the same or even increased slightly, the trial has shown that a move to a shorter work week comes with a myriad of problems, especially for companies eager to level the playing field between male and female workers.
In principle, moving to a shorter work week impacts all workers the same, right? Not exactly. Research shows it might actually help women close the gender pay gap – especially if handled with flexibility. Currently in the UK, the gender pay gap is 7.9% for full-time workers, rising to 15% across part-time work.
And for those with children, the pay gap rises to 33% by the time the child is 12, making it clear that this problem will not go away without societal and workplace change. In addition to heavily impacting day-to-day spending ability, this gap also impacts women’s financial futures, specifically in relation to pensions and securing their independence for later life.
For the majority of workers, paying into a pension fund is something that happens directly at source through our employers. By opting for this model, women will be able to benefit from full pay (and full pension contributions) in return for 80% of their time, leaving the extra day off per week free to tackle other commitments such as childcare, and caring for elderly family members.
If you’re confused about why we need a change in the workplace for women to find the time to manage their personal commitments, consider this: in the UK, women on average work more hours (paid and unpaid) than men. In fact, a recent study shows that women shouldered 23.2bn hours of unpaid childcare care worth an estimated £382bn, compared to men who provided 9.7bn hours, worth £160bn.
This heavy weighting in favour of men, means that all too often, women are forced to take a step back in their career so as to claw back time and handle these commitments – often at the expense of their career and earning power. This reduction in their working week results in a reduction in salary, an automatic cut in pension contributions and a decline in career opportunities. The move to a four-day week will help reduce the need for women to cut their working hours, increasing their earning power and opportunity for progression.
However, it’s important to note that for this trial to positively impact the gender pay gap, full flexibility around working days is required. With employers operating a 32-hour work week rather than a four-day work week, for example.
In fact, this approach to flexibility across all sectors is paramount to success – commitments will sometimes clash and having the trust and respect from your employer to hit targets and goals while managing your own time is key. If your current employer doesn’t get that, then maybe it’s time to look elsewhere?
There are dozens of companies renowned for flexibility currently hiring. There are two exciting roles highlighted below, but be sure to browse the Alt A Job Board to find your perfect fit.
The Role: Based in London, the Senior Communications Manager with Airbnb will have responsibility for the UK and Ireland will work alongside a cross-functional team from public policy, marketing, legal and sales to showcase the benefits of sharing your home and travelling on Airbnb.
The Responsibilities: You will be responsible for developing a fully integrated cross functional strategy that remains in line with global comms priorities but can be localised to the relevant market and partners.
The Requirements: You have ten plus years’ experience in communications, an international outlook and passion for travel mixed with a strong understanding of UK cultural trends and pop culture and have experience working with industry partners to build effective campaigns.
The Role: As the Business Support Coordinator you will assist the operations teams and provide a high level of support to the department head, sales negotiators and European network members, mainly covering European countries.
The Responsibilities: You will create new property activity records and update/maintain existing listings, liaise with network members over new listings and quality of photography and provide additional accounting and marketing support as required.
The Requirements: You will have at least three years experience in a similar role and combine a flexible and adaptable approach to work with a co-operative attitude.
By Aisling O’Toole