Majority of employees plan on requesting four-day working week

Following the success of the world’s largest trial of the four-day working week, new research suggests more workers are feeling empowered to ask for the perk.

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young
Direct to your inbox Email Newsletter viewed on a phone

Sign up to the Startups Weekly Newsletter

Stay informed on the top business stories with’s weekly email newsletter


Businesses are being told to prepare for requests from employees to offer a four-day working week, after new research shows that 7 in 10 intend to ask their employer to embrace the initiative this year.

Global recruitment agency, Aspire, polled 400 UK workers following the success of the world’s largest four-day working week trial, which took place between June and December 2022.

56 of the 61 businesses that piloted the scheme announced they would extend it after reporting seeing a marked increase in productivity and overall job satisfaction. This includes 18 which have made it permanent.

Now, Aspire suggests that companies prepare for more requests. Many have already begun adopting the working model as a way to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive jobs market.

Four-day working week meets employee demand for flexible working

The Aspire survey found that the vast majority of company employees (69%) plan to ask their employer to implement a four-day working week.

Of those surveyed, 24% said they did not plan on asking their employers, while 7% of these surveyed already work a four-day week.

On top of the poll, Aspire has released its quarterly research into job seeker requirements. The report found that flexible working for better work-life balance is now the second most influential factor when looking for a job, just behind salary.

Terry Payne, Global Managing Director of Aspire, comments: “Flexible working and work/life balance are becoming more and more important to candidates. Increasingly, they dictate whether or not someone applies for a job, let alone accepts or rejects an offer.”

Why offer a four-day working week?

Four-day working weeks are not just compressed hours. Instead, employees work around 28 hours per week across four days and have three days off instead of the traditional two. Crucially, this comes with no cut to pay.

What was once a radical idea is fast becoming mainstream. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more companies are choosing to trial the four-day week approach, inspired by how easily the world switched to new ways of working.

There are plenty of motivations to do so – number one being the health and wellbeing benefits for staff. According to the official report released following the end of the trial, the vast majority of workers enjoyed significant gains from its introduction.

‘Before and after’ data shows that, at the end of the trial, 39% of employees were less stressed, and 71% had reduced levels of burnout. Likewise, levels of anxiety, fatigue and sleep issues decreased, while mental and physical health also improved.

This can boost overall morale and engagement; two key drivers that have a direct influence on organisational culture and employee satisfaction.

Financial savings are another win. Running costs, like utility bills, can be significantly reduced, as the office would be closed for an extra day a week. Employees can also save on commuter costs and lunch expenses, both of which have shot up as a result of inflation.

Should you consider introducing a four-day working week?

Worker shortages are currently stalling small business recruitment drives, making it difficult to fill gaps in many workforces.

In this context, updating your benefits and perks package to include the offer of a four-day working week seems wholly positive. Not just for making new hires, but also for improving retention and reducing turnover. Plus, the government’s flexible working bill has put pressure on employers to update their current provision.

It goes without saying, however, that introducing such a major change to working styles poses challenges. Business owners should not implement a four day working week without first designing a well thought out policy.

The model will not suit every firm. Hospitality SMEs, for example, typically need to be staffed seven days a week. Closing your office one day a week could irritate customers. Some employees may struggle to adjust to working four days, slowing productivity.

There is also little room for backpedalling. Once employees have had the taste of a three day weekend, they will likely push back if asked to revert back to working five days a week.

Nonetheless, Aspire’s research shows that four-day working weeks are becoming more popular amongst the UK workforce. Forward-thinking senior leaders should now discuss the concept, and arrive at an argument for or against trying it out.

As Terry Payne from Aspire adds: “Our findings suggest that four-day working week requests may come flooding in.

“With this in mind, employers would be wise to assess if this initiative is feasible. This preparation is vital in being able to let staff and potential employees know where they stand.”

To help decide if it’s the right option for your company, our guide to the four-day working week outlines the key pros, cons, and considerations.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

Leave a comment

Leave a reply

We value your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our commenting policy.

Back to Top