Four Day Week pilot can transform work practices in Ireland

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A four-day week can deliver positive results for business and provide the work/life balance employees want post-Covid. That’s according to Four Day Week Ireland who launched a new pilot programme today (22.06.21) for employers to trial the effectiveness of a four-day week for their organisation.

Under the pilot programme, employers will introduce a four-day week for their employees over a six-month period starting in January 2022. The pilot includes business supports to help organisations explore flexible working smoothly and successfully. The business supports include a training programme developed by companies who have already successfully implemented a four-day week; coaching, mentoring and advice from four-day week business leaders, networking and collaboration with other participant companies in Ireland and internationally and access to world-class academic research and expert analysis.

The pilot is part of an international collaboration with 4 Day Week Global, and will run on a coordinated, parallel basis in a number of countries including Ireland, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Commenting today, Joe O’Connor, Chairperson of the Four Day Week Ireland campaign, saidIn the last year we have seen radical shifts in our working practices. More flexible ways of working are here to stay. This year has also given people a chance to reflect on what they value most and how they want to manage their working lives, and so now is absolutely the right time to rethink, review and change the way we do things, and move to a four-day week. We know from international research that a shorter working week doesn’t mean a loss in productivity – in many cases, it is the opposite. 

“The launch of the four-day week pilot programme represents an exciting moment of change for employers and employees, and it’s up to the business community now to show that they are willing to lead and support this change for the better.”

Benefits for employers

Major Government-backed pilot programmes of the four-day working week are already being developed in Spain and Scotland, and the four-day week has been successfully introduced in a growing number of companies worldwide, including here in Ireland.

Joe O’Connor, Chairperson of Four Day Week Ireland added: “Employers who have already introduced a four-day week have found that a shorter working week can benefit their employees physical and mental health, as well as bringing broader benefits to society, including by reducing carbon emissions and supporting gender equality. For businesses hungry for talent, a shorter working week can provide a competitive edge.”

Paul McNulty, CEO of 3D Issue, who have introduced a four-day week added:“When we offered the four-day work week, it was in the form of a bonus to our staff. At the time, we did not necessarily think that reducing staff hours would lead to an increase in sales and productivity, yet it did.

“Our staff are happier, more refreshed and more engaged in their work. Covid-19 has changed people’s perspective of work-life balance and of the optimal working environment. We are delighted to support Four Day Week Ireland in its campaign to study and educate the wider business community on the benefits that a four-day working week would bring to our society.”

Government funded research

As part of the pilot programme, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications have announced they will fund a call for research to assess the economic, social, and environmental impacts of a four-day working week in a specifically Irish context. This follows the development of a significant international collaborative research partnership between Four Day Week Ireland, University College Dublin and Boston College.

This research will examine the impact of a shorter working week on private sector companies and public sector employers as they pilot a four-day week over six months. The research will explore the impact of a shorter working week on productivity, wellbeing, job satisfaction, environmental footprint, and household division of labour.

Responding to the announcement, Joe O’Connor, Chairperson of Four Day Week Ireland: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to support research on the four-day week, and look forward to submitting a proposal via our research partnership with UCD and Boston College. With the huge changes taking place in the post-Covid environment, now is the right time for the Government to be imaginative and innovative in reassessing how we live and work.”

Employers are encouraged to contact the Four Day Week Ireland campaign if they would like to learn more at www.fourdayweek.ie or at [email protected]

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