Outcomes First Group trials four-day week

David Leatherbarrow

Outcomes First Group has moved 18% of its workforce to a four-day week as part of a national trial.

The provider is the largest organisation and only children’s services operator to take part in the six-month UK trial and has moved more than 1,000 of its 5,500-strong workforce across with no loss of pay. Part-time staff will also benefit from a reduction in hours too.

‘We have empowered local leaders to implement carefully structured timetables to ensure our exceptional level of care and support is well-maintained,’ said chief executive David Leatherbarrow. ‘Microsoft Japan reported a 40% increase in productivity when workers switched to a four-day week. I believe that colleagues benefiting from a better work-life balance will be more productive.’

He said the organisation had reviewed the four-day week ‘intermittently’ over the past 12 months.

Seventy UK companies and over 3,300 workers are taking part in the trial, which is based on the principle of the 100:80:100™ model – 100% of the pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100% productivity.

Outcomes First piloted the four-day working week in its IT department for a three-week period before the official six-month trial started. It said productivity of the team improved from 50-85% during the period.

‘The single most valuable commodity anyone gives us is their time – which is why rather than dictating, we empowered our teams to consider what works best for them, how best to deliver against their organisational projects and how they could do this in the most productive way possible,’ said Leatherbarrow.

It is also trialling the four-day week in two of its schools, ‘We have empowered a couple of our leaders to consider how they can make this work. Our ambition is to roll it out to all of our 50 special schools and our residential homes within the next 12 months,’ Leatherbarrow added.

The pilot is being organised 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.

Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College, and lead researcher on the pilot, said: ‘We’ll be analysing how employees respond to having an extra day off, in terms of stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, health, sleep, energy use, travel and many other aspects of life.

‘The four-day week is generally considered to be a triple dividend policy – helping employees, companies, and the climate. Our research efforts will be digging into all of this.’