Risk takers 4dww 2
Want to work 4 days a week? These business leaders are taking the leap
04:54 - Source: CNN Business
London CNN Business  — 

It wasn’t hard for Samantha Losey, managing director of Unity, a public relations firm in London, to convince her team to work fewer hours for the same paycheck.

But it was an uphill battle to persuade her own board to join the world’s biggest pilot of the four-day work week.

“I had to fight very hard for us to do this as a business… nobody was willing. Everyone was very traditionalist,” Losey told CNN Business.

The main concern centered on whether a 20% cut to weekly working hours would lead to a drop in output, and cause clients to flee.

But after a “very difficult journey” to convince her board, and a rocky start, Losey said her team has hit its stride. She said she is 80% sure everyone will keep the routine after November, when the trial ends.

“[My head] would roll like Marie Antoinette’s if I said to this team ‘we’re not doing this anymore’,” she said.

Unity is one of 70 companies in the United Kingdom participating in the trial. For six months starting in June, more than 3,300 employees have worked 80% of their usual hours — for the same rate of pay — in exchange for promising to deliver 100% of their usual work.

Samantha Losey, managing director of Unity, and Gary Conroy, founder and CEO of 5 Squirrels, both had their companies join the program.

The program is being run by the nonprofit organization 4 Day Week Global; Autonomy, a think tank; and the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, in partnership with researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.

Already, the trial is bearing fruit for workers hungry for more free time.

Halfway into the pilot, 95% of companies surveyed by 4 Day Week Global say their productivity levels have either stayed the same or improved, while 86% say they are likely to make the routine permanent.

For Gary Conroy, founder and CEO of 5 Squirrels, a skincare product manufacturer on England’s south coast with 13 full-time employees, the new work routine gets “better and better all the time,” he told CNN Business.

Some of the benefits were unexpected.

“We’ve all lost a lot of weight…we were overweight before,” he said. “[The team has] more time to prepare food, [eat] healthily. Lots of people are going to the gym a lot more.”

Good for business?

Four months into the trial, Losey said her clients are happy with their performance, while her team is much more inspired and creative. An internal study at the company found that productivity was up 35% and staff said they were feeling healthier and happier, compared to before the trial.

Now, people are scrambling to join the company.

“We were dying at the beginning of the year trying to find talent and we were spending money on recruiters left, right and center,” she said.

But since Unity joined the program, Losey said she’s “never ever had so many applications,” saving the business a lot of money in recruitment costs.