A nationwide UK trial of a four-day working week begins on Monday.

The pilot scheme will see around 70 companies take part in a six-month trial, coordinated with 4-Day Week Global and researchers at Cambridge and Oxford University. 

Paul Rhodes, founder of Midlands agile development firm Green Gorilla Software, is no stranger to the policy. The 10-year-old company has been fully remote since 2015 after he realised it would increase the pool of available talent and help to attract and retain key employees. 

“This same ethos is at the heart of our reasoning for switching to a four-day week,” he tells TechBlast. “It was raised by one member of the team, discussed and evaluated, then eventually offered to everyone. We believe this transition will continue to build on our culture of flexibility.”

WellGiving launched in 2019

Rhodes is also growing WellGiving, a health platform to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of employees while raising money for charities.

“Coming from the tech industry, we are used to a process of iteration and improvement, and this has definitely played a major role in how we have rolled out flexible and remote work – and now a four-day week,” he continued.

“Everyone in our team knows our values and knows what is expected of them, and I think it’s far more important to create an environment that promotes this rather than micro-managing when staff choose to work their contracted hours. 

“We’ve transitioned naturally into a four-day week because of the culture of balance and trust we have already fostered over the years.”

Flexible culture is key

He says he has seen a lot of companies exploring options for flexible work – or even looking to implement a four-day week – despite lacking any pre-existing culture of flexibility.

“That poses a host of challenges when they come to implement these policies,” he explains. “The key for us is flexibility, not just a four-day week. We enable a culture in which work fits around the lives of our staff in a calm and measured way that breeds quality. 

“The majority of businesses that I’ve seen talk about transitioning to a four-day week aren’t actually that flexible to begin with, with many proposing a system of 8am-6pm at a desk in the office, with a 30-minute lunch. 

“For us, the goal is fitting in periods of quality work around school runs, doctor’s appointments and life in general for our staff.

“Our ethos and passion is to deliver quality, and the key to this is calm, deep periods of productive work – when this occurs will be different for each of our employees and for many, those moments do not suddenly happen between 9am and 5pm.”

WellGiving is designed to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of remote and hybrid employees through fundraising fitness challenges.

The platform has already recorded a staggering 3.5 million minutes of exercise across 1,900 participating athletes, with £77,000 raised for 27 charities while still in its beta phase.

‘Switching to a four-day week transformed our business and our staff’

Positive reaction

The reaction from employees has, unsurprisingly, been overwhelmingly positive, as it affords everyone much greater freedom in their work schedules, and allows them to fit work around other responsibilities and commitments,” Rhodes adds of the flexible working culture. 

“On a personal level, this is particularly important to me, as one of our company values is equality. If I’ve never missed one of my kid’s sports days, why should any of my employees?

“We’ve already seen a marked increase in productivity and performance, and this is directly feeding into the results we are able to deliver for our clients and on the projects we create.

As a company, we leave it up to each individual to determine their own work schedule, and this has been no different with the four-day week. Not everyone wants to work four days, and for some they’ve chosen to use that time as a day of calm, with no meetings or other interruptions, affording them the opportunity for deep, focused work.”