A four-day week could save UK businesses £104bn per year

Businesswoman on the move
The four-day week trend shows no sign of slowing down. Photo: Getty

Adopting a four-day working week could save UK businesses more than £100bn per year, according to a new report from Henley Business School.

A four-day working week — on full pay — could add to businesses’ bottom lines to the tune of £104bn annually, through increased staff productivity and improved health, Henley found in a report released Wednesday.

Researchers estimate the four-day model has already saved implementing businesses about £92bn anually.

READ MORE: Pros and cons of a four-day week

The research also found this working style increased overall quality of life for employees, with over three quarters (78%) of implementing businesses saying staff were happier. Seven in 10 businesses said employees became less stressed (70%) and 62% said workers took fewer days off ill.

Nearly two thirds (64%) of businesses that have already adopted a four-day working week reported improvements in staff productivity, according to the report. Almost two thirds (63%) of employers said providing a four-day working week has helped them attract and retain talent.

READ MORE: Third of Brits would take pay cut to work four-day week

Employees are not just more productive at the office. With an additional day off, two in five employees would use the time to up-skill or develop professional skills. A quarter said they would use their fifth day to volunteer.

The four-day week trend shows no sign of slowing down, according to Henley. A third of business leaders (34%) — and nearly half (46%) of larger businesses — said a four-day working could be key to future business success, so we’re likely to see more trials and implementations in the coming years.

The study shows UK workers are keen for this workplace shakeup, with nearly three quarters (72%) agreeing it’s an attractive proposition and would be a firm driver when picking an employer.

READ MORE: Burnout, stress lead more companies to try a four-day work week

This is particularly important for Generation Z — two thirds (67%) said it would help them make a decision on who to work for.

The four-day week also demonstrates a positive impact on the environment, as employees estimate they would drive 557.8 million fewer miles per week on average, leading to fewer transport emissions.

But despite the financial, environmental, and well-being advantages, nearly three quarters (73%) of employers revealed they are concerned about making the change to a four-day week.

READ MORE: Would working fewer hours help tackle the climate crisis?

Customer servicing — and the need to be available every day — were cited as the main barrier for a whopping 82% of firms.

While the majority of workers would opt for a four-day working week, nearly half (45%) would worry about being perceived as lazy by co-workers. Over a third (35%) would be concerned if they had to hand over work to colleagues.