Woman looking at a calendar with a four day week.
Image: © Vadym/Stock.adobe.com

Irish companies say switch to four-day work week was a success

30 Nov 2022

Sleep quality and work-life balance improved for employees who took part in the four-day work week trial.

A four-day work week trial among companies in Ireland has been deemed a success, with 100pc of employees indicating that they preferred a reduced work schedule.

The six-month coordinated trial took place earlier this year, seeing 12 Irish companies switch to a four-day week with no reduction in pay for employees. It was part of a global pilot programme involving a total of 33 companies, mostly from Ireland and the US.

All of the companies in Ireland that took part said they are now continuing with the four-day week schedule. Nine of the 12 said they are committed to continuing with the new approach, while the other three are continuing but have not made any long-term commitments just yet.

The results of the trial, backed by Irish trade union Fórsa, were examined by University College Dublin (UCD), Four Day Week Ireland and Boston College to assess the impact this shift had on businesses and their employees in Ireland.

The team found improvements in employee wellbeing, with significant improvements for women. Women participants reported that they felt more satisfied and secure in their jobs following the reduced working hours.

Across the board, sleep quality and work-life balance improved. Sleep times increased on average from 7.02 hours a night to 7.72 hours, while time for hobbies increased by 36 minutes a week on average.

Only four of the 12 companies tracked industry-specific metrics, but all observed improvements during the trial period. Both of the two companies that tracked energy usage saw reductions thanks to the reduced hours. Only one of the seven companies that provided revenue details observed a decline.

Lead researcher Dr Orla Kelly of UCD said that the research can provide key learnings and lessons for the future of work in Ireland.

“All participating organisations plan to continue the reduced work schedule. Productivity levels are up. We found significant improvements across a wide range of wellbeing metrics, including positive affect, work-family and work-life balance, and several domains of life satisfaction,” she explained.

“Conversely, stress, burnout, fatigue and work-family conflict significantly declined. Levels of sleep deprivation have also fallen dramatically. We observed an increase across three forms of pro-environmental behaviour.”

Kevin Callinan, general secretary of Fórsa, also welcomed the results of the trial.

“The four-day week is an example of how a concept that many have questioned can genuinely improve the future for workers,” he said. “The research presented today highlights the need for a more balanced work-life schedule.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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