Confidence in four-day week growing at Outcomes First Group

Sharon Platts, chief people officer, Outcomes First Group

Early results from Outcomes First Group’s four-day week trial have resulted in productivity and output increasing, with the provider growing in confidence it may continue beyond the pilot period.

At the halfway point of a six-month trial, data points and qualitative feedback have been gathered.

As previously reported, the provider moved 18% of its workforce to a four-day week. It is the largest organisation and only children’s services operator to take part and moved more than 1,000 of its 5,500-strong workforce across with no loss of pay.

‘The four-day week [pilot] has been transformational for us so far. We’ve been delighted to see productivity and output increase and have also been able to make it work in our education and care services participating in the pilot, which we thought would be far more challenging,’ said Sharon Platts, chief people officer at Outcomes First Group.

‘While it’s still early days, our confidence in continuing beyond the trial is growing and the impact on colleague wellbeing has been palpable.’

It has adopted efficient ways of working, such as making meetings shorter and more productive, and managed in a way that ensures there is output from the time spent in them.

More than 70 organisations signed up for the trial, which is being run by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, and researchers at Cambridge and Oxford universities and Boston College.

From the 41 companies that responded to a check-in survey, data showed 88% said the four-day week was working ‘well’; 46% responded that productivity ‘maintained around the same level’, while 34% reported it had ‘improved slightly’, and 15% ‘improved significantly’.

Almost nine in ten (86%) replied they would be ‘extremely likely’ and or ‘likely’ to consider retaining the four-day week policy after the trial.

4 Day Week Global chief executive Joe O’Connor said: ‘The organisations in the UK pilot are contributing real-time data and knowledge that are worth their weight in gold. Essentially, they are laying the foundation for the future of work by putting a four-day week into practice, across every size of business and nearly every sector, and telling us exactly what they are finding as they go.

‘While for most organisations the pilot prompts many pleasing discoveries and outcomes – a lot of businesses have more flexibility and nimbleness among their people and teams that leaders often know at the outset – there is friction for others, and this can be based on a variety of factors, many of which can be addressed or substantially improved in the pilot itself.’

Pilot programmes also been rolled out this year in North America, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.