A third of British workers say they are actively looking for a four day week in 2022 and will leave their jobs if not offered one by their employer.

A Censuswide survey, published today, found eight percent have already agreed to shorter weeks with their current employer. 

The research, commissioned by ClickUp, shows the demand for the four-day week is being driven by under 45s with only 20 percent of those over 55 in support of it.

A fifth of 35-44 year olds say they are preparing to quit their job to find a new role that offers better working terms, while more than 16 percent plan to ask their current employer for a shorter working week in 2022. 

This attitude is shared by younger workers with 18 percent of 25-34 year olds, and 15.3 percent of 16-24 year olds, also prepared to quit their job to find one offering a four-day work week.

Previous suggestions of a shorter working week were laughed away

The former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was laughed at during a TV debate with Prime Minister Boris Johnson for suggesting a four day week of 32 hours in the UK, with no loss of pay in 2019. Mr Johnson described it as a ‘crackpot plan’ which would be ruinous for the NHS.

However, experts now suggest that since the pandemic, people are more open to a four day week, especially amongst younger workers. The move was trialled with success in Iceland and last year, the online Atom Bank adopted a four day work week for its 430 workers, with no loss of pay. 

Working hours overall were only dropped by 3.5 hours a week, which meant people need to work longer hours during their working days. The move was made across the board, but was voluntary to accommodate workers’ needs

Recruiters that speak to HRreview have confirmed that a number of companies offer benefits such as a few days a year for employees to carry out enrichment activities, training or research. Anecdotally, this has improved productivity and employee retention.

ClickUp CEO and billionaire entrepreneur Zeb Evans, who is based in the US, said businesses need to get on the bandwagon and offer employees jobs on their terms. This he said would improve productivity. 

He acknowledged however that a shorter working week would not work for all businesses, but said: “Those wanting to explore the idea can start by looking at their productivity. There are huge gains to be made by making processes more efficient, improving knowledge sharing and removing duplication of effort. This can have a huge effect and can be used to offset any loss in working hours. Companies where a four-day work isn’t the right choice may choose to reinvest this extra productivity back into their businesses, which could be critical in high-growth and highly competitive sectors.” 

UAE changes working week

Elsewhere, the United Arab Emirates has cut its working week to four and a half days, and also moved its weekend. Previously, the UAE weekend was Friday and Saturday but the government news site WAM said the country is now working the same times as the western week – Monday to Friday. This means the new UAE weekend is now Saturday and Sunday, and a half day on Friday.

WAM said: “The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE government’s efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the UAE’s economic competitiveness,” the WAM report said.