South Africa’s 4-Day Work Week Experiment Shows Few Employees Took Fridays Off

South Africa’s 4-Day Work Week Experiment Shows Few Employees Took Fridays Off

More than 28 companies participated in the experiment.

The South African four-day workweek pilot program has returned positive results while proving that many employees don’t opt to call off on Fridays as many predicted, Bloomberg reports. Less than 1 in 4 workers opted for a week ending on Thursday.

More than 28 companies participated in the experiment, with many offering flexibility on what days employees could choose not to work. The six-month study allowed workers to experience a four-day workweek without any loss of pay for unworked days. Before the trial, participants underwent a planning and work practice conducted by 4 Day Week Global, including two months of workshops, coaching, mentoring, and peer support. Some 71% of the employees who participated in the trial were women. Most participants worked in professional services, IT, marketing, and financial service industries.

Researchers at Boston College also partnered on the initiative as implementing a four-day work week has become a focus of employers looking to maximize the productivity of their workers, Clockwise reports.

“The results have been impressive. While hours didn’t fall by the full eight per week, employees did see improvements in virtually all our measures of well-being, stress, burnout, fatigue, anxiety, mental health, work-family balance, sleep problems and exercise frequency,” said Professor Juliet Schor, a lead quantitative researcher at Boston College. “One of the strongest results is a large improvement in self-reported productivity, without much increase in work intensity.”

Employees had to commit to delivering the same output for participation in the experiment with a 20% cut in time spent at work. Though many companies took skeptical stances about whether or not the trial would remedy the growing productivity challenges in South Africa, 92% of the participating employers decided to keep the scaled-down work schedules permanently.

“This research represents a pivotal moment not just for South Africa but for the entire continent and global community,” said 4 Day Week Global CEO Dr Dale Whelehan.

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