Canon UK joins four-day week trial

Canon's UK arm joins the six month trial, set to begin in June

Canon’s UK business, based in Edinburgh, is set to trial the four-day work week. The move build’s on Scotland’s reputation as a pioneer of this style as benefits, including higher productivity and reduced turnover and associated costs, are reported by several firms that have adopted it.

The new four day week trial

Forming part of a six-month pilot run by academics from Cambridge and Oxford universities, Canon UK’s trial of the four-day week with no loss of pay will be implemented across its 140 strong workforce.

In a statement to The Guardian, President of Canon Medical Research Europe, Ken Sutherland, said: “We recognise that working patterns and the focus we all give to our work-life balance has changed substantially during the pandemic. As a responsive employer, we are always looking at how we can adapt our working practices to ensure that employees find their time with us is meaningful, fulfilling and productive. For this reason, we’re keen to pilot a four-day week to see if it can work for us.”

Set to begin in June 2022, the aim is to recruit between 20 and 30 businesses to the trial. Six have joined so far, including software firms and a medical not-for-profit, and both small and large organisations, encompassing workforces of 20 to over 100 staff.

The trial will be run with Boston College, the UK 4 Day Week Campaign, and Autonomy, a think tank about the future of work and economic planning. It will be overseen by the campaign group, 4 Day Week Global.

Other businesses embracing the four-day week include Unilever, which has extended a trial for workers in New Zealand until June 2022, and Japanese technology firm Panasonic, which will trial four day weeks on an optional basis. UK-based Atom Bank has gone further and said it would implement it permanently.

Scotland – an advocate for the four-day work week?

Scotland has been a forerunner in support of the four-day work week. Last year, its government announced its intention to set up a £10m fund for companies wanting to pilot the working style and forms part of a pledge by the Scottish Government to pursue a “wellbeing economy.”

Glasgow-based Pursuit Marketing has had a four-week work policy in place since 2016. Speaking to The Guardian, Chief Operating Officer Lorraine Gray said productivity rose to around 30% higher while there have also been “mental health benefits” and continually low staff turnover.

Ben Gateley, CEO and Co-Founder of London-based software firm CharlieHR, is trialling a nine-day fortnight working pattern. This involves compressed working hours, allowing staff to work their contracted hours over fewer days.

Employees work the equivalent of their two weeks contracted hours over nine days, enabling them to take a day off. On the rising uptake of different working styles, he said: “One of the most positive societal transformations, which has been a direct result of the pandemic, is around how we work.

“Lockdown and universal home working has brought life and work closer together and has meant that creating a more flexible, liveable working life is the future. Separation from work is important, but ultimately, we are the same person at work and out of work. For too long, the idea that our professional lives can benefit by being more aligned with our identities as whole people has been completely missed.

“Ringfenced office structures and traditional work timings have been relied on for decades, guided by the philosophy that the harder people work, and the more controlled they are, the better. But the reality is that this isn’t the most productive way to do business. When employees are given more autonomy over how they work and are able to get sufficient rest, they are more engaged and productive.”

In this article, you learned that:

  • Canon’s UK business, based in Edinburgh, will trial the four-day work week
  • Perks can include higher staff productivity and low turnover and associated costs
  • The Scottish Government is putting money behind a trial for the nation’s willing businesses
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