Morrisons will allow its employees to work four days a week for six months, which is supposed to be better for their well-being and for the environment. Along with Unilever, the British supermarket chain is following up on positive results from an earlier Icelandic trial.
The chain is trying out a more flexible working week at its head office: for six months, office workers will only have to work four days a week for the same pay. However, they are expected to do the same amount of work and perform the same amount of hours. In concrete terms, this means that many people will now work nine-hour shifts instead of eight, with a six-hour shift on Saturdays every four weeks.
The initiative is part of the 4 Day Week Global campaign, a worldwide campaign that encourages and assists companies and organisations in switching to a four-day working week. The trial runs in most English-speaking countries, from the United Kingdom over Canada to Australia and New Zealand. In Britain alone, thirty companies are taking part.
“The idea is that this innovative new way of working will mean we are much more flexible and responsive, and we think it will make Morrisons a place where more people will want to join – and stay”, the supermarket chain said. The company noticed that working from home during the pandemic had made employees more productive, quicker and more flexible.
FMCG giant Unilever is also taking part: last year, employees in New Zealand were temporarily allowed to work 20 % less while keeping their salaries. According to the initiators, earlier trials in Iceland have been an overwhelming success. They have led to a staggering 86 % of the Icelandic workforce switching to a shorter working week – or acquiring the right to do so in the future.
In Iceland, the productivity remained the same, or even improved, while workers felt they experienced less stress, their health improved and found a better work-life balance. “It can help us as a company to be more productive. It can have all sorts of health benefits. And it puts everybody’s well-being first”, Morrisons also stressed.
A British study mentioned an additional benefit: a shorter working week could also reduce carbon emissions. The trial results are monitored by researchers at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Boston. Participating companies will also get training to make the switch.