- Twenty companies have signed a six-month pilot project to test a four-day working week in Ireland.
- The test, organized by the Four Day Week Ireland campaign, takes place alongside an American pilot.
- Director Joe O’Connor has said he hopes he can serve as a role model for pilots elsewhere.
The coordinator of a four-day week-long pilot project in Ireland said he hoped the program could serve as a model for other pilots around the world.
Joe O’Connor is the Global Pilot Program Manager for Four Day Week. The program was officially launched in Ireland in June.
So far, 20 companies have signed up for the six-month pilot, which will require them to test a reduction in working hours from February 2022. It is coordinated alongside a similar pilot in the United States and in Canada, from April 2022.
“We’re hoping that in these two jurisdictions it’s going to be kind of a first-phase trial,” O’Connor told Insider. “Then we hope to use that as a model to adapt to other areas.”
Companies that sign up for the trial will have access to training and support from international experts, who have already implemented similar programs.
Boston College and University College Dublin will support research on the impact on carbon emissions, productivity and well-being, compared to a standard five-day work week.
O’Connor said he still hopes more organizations will join the pilot before it begins in February.
The pilots were organized as part of a larger work by Four Day Week Global, a collaboration of companies, academics and unions campaigning for reduced hours of work, with no overall loss of pay. This is a concept commonly referred to as a four-day work week.
Private sector companies are the main focus, but O’Connor said if the six-month pilot is successful, the goal is to expand it to public sector companies, as well as some civilian community organizations.
So far only two companies – Yala, a recruiting company and children’s medical product maker Soothing Solutions – have publicly announced that they have joined the Irish pilot, O’Connor said.
Kickstarter and health information company HealthWise Inc have joined the US pilot project.
The Covid-19 has accelerated calls to shorten working hours.
The momentum behind calls for shorter working hours is building up at both the corporate and state level.
This month, for example, Belgian politicians hinted at plans to condense the work week into four days. Likewise, Lee Jae-myung, a presidential candidate in South Korea, suggested to voters that he would implement shorter work weeks if they supported him.
The results of a high-profile series of trials in Iceland showed that well-being improved among local government and service workers when they took between one and five hours of their workweek.
The Spanish and Scottish governments have also pledged to set aside millions to fund trials.
Meanwhile, a bill to lower the threshold at which Californian workers are paid for overtime, introduced by Mark Takano, is under consideration in the United States.
The Irish pilot project is not supported by the state and covers only the roles of the private sector. But the Irish government separately announced funding of $ 173,000 for research over a four-day week.
The COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in growing that momentum, O’Connor said. On the one hand, it has raised workers’ expectations of what is possible, he said.
“The remote working revolution has forced companies to embrace a space where they have had to design much better metrics to actually measure what people are doing,” O’Connor said. “It opens the door to this idea that ‘can you work fewer hours? “”