Friday 1 July 2022 10:36 AM Firm taking part in four-day week trial says staff will be back full time at ... trends now

Friday 1 July 2022 10:36 AM Firm taking part in four-day week trial says staff will be back full time at ... trends now
Friday 1 July 2022 10:36 AM Firm taking part in four-day week trial says staff will be back full time at ... trends now

Friday 1 July 2022 10:36 AM Firm taking part in four-day week trial says staff will be back full time at ... trends now

The boss of a company taking part in the four-day working week trial says staff will go back to working five days a week to meet demand later this year.

Louise Verity, CEO of Bookishly, an independent business that sells literary gifts, has revealed that despite the trial 'going smoothly so far', her business will return to five-day working weeks over Christmas.

She said the decision had been made to do it so it could be sure they would meet increase demand over the festive period, which is when her company makes the bulk of its profit.

The gift company's founder has also admitted that staff can only take Wednesday as their extra day off because otherwise they would fall behind dealing with orders. 

That's despite her firm's participation in an ongoing pilot scheme, where workers are supposed to complete all the work they would normally do in a five-day week, in four days.

The trial is being coordinated by campaign group 4 Day Week Global, think tank Autonomy and academics at Oxford, Cambridge and Boston College in the US.

Northampton-based firm Bookishly is taking part in a trial scheme where staff work do 100 per cent of their work in four days a week with no reduction in pay. Pictured are commuters heading into work in London

Northampton-based firm Bookishly is taking part in a trial scheme where staff work do 100 per cent of their work in four days a week with no reduction in pay. Pictured are commuters heading into work in London

More than 3,000 workers are taking part in the scheme, which has seen employers such as the Royal Society of Biology, hipster London brewery Pressure Drop, Southampton computer game developer Yo Telecom, a Manchester medical devices firm, and a fish and chip shop in Norfolk take part.

Staff will be given 100 per cent pay for 80 per cent of their time — but they have made a commitment to produce 100 per cent of their usual output.

However some critics say the concept would be impossible in customer facing jobs, or 24/7 operations including where overtime payments would present an extra cost to employers or the taxpayer.

Speaking to Felicity Hannah on Radio 4's Today show this morning, Ms Verity said while it was 'so far so good' for the trial at her firm, staff would be needed back in the office five days a week later this year. 

Ms Verity, who started the business in 2013 and now employs 10 people, said staff currently have Wednesday's off.

She said: 'We've gone with Wednesday and I really like it. I think my team do too. 

'It was important to us that we didn't add to the catch up - after the weekend is quite significant for us, because we are processing orders that have come in over days that we weren't in, so adding another day to that would make that Monday or Tuesday very difficult. 

Louise Verity, CEO of Bookishly, said the pilot was 'going smoothly' but admitted staff will be back working five days a week to meet demand over Christmas

Louise Verity, CEO of Bookishly, said the pilot was 'going smoothly' but admitted staff will be back working five days a week to meet demand over Christmas

'So we've spread it out a bit more by picking Wednesday and we're all off on the same day so that nobody has to cover anyone else's role, rather than staggering the days off.'

Ms Verity said the Northampton-based firm has had complaints from customers or suppliers about not being able to contact them on the day the business shuts, as 'it's all about communication and making sure people understand what to expect'.

Despite the smooth-sailing so far, she did admit staff would be going back to the office five days a week in November and December to meet demand over Christmas.

'We talked about this as a team and it is a really key time for us, the peak is huge at Christmas and basically all of our profit happens in December,' she said. 

'We want to be a four-day week company and if we could do the five days in just six weeks of the year, we still felt that was an amazing improvement to our work-life balance.

'For three weeks of November, three weeks of December we'll be working on Wednesday's too and we'll be focused solely on Christmas prep - everything that we do for preparing for Christmas will happen on those Wednesdays in November. 

'Then by December hopefully we'll be so busy that we'll need those Wednesdays for production over and above the normal days which will mean that we won't need any Christmas temps and it will focus our Christmas prep on those days. 

'Normally we would be doing a couple of hours here or there preparing, and by focusing everything on those Wednesdays I think it's really going to help us. Everybody was on board with that.'

She added that there would be no increase in pay for working the extra day, despite the scheme promoting people being paid 100 per cent of their wages for working four days a week, not five.  

Where did the five-day week come from? 

Prior to the Great Depression, the first example of a five-day week was seen in 1908.

A mill in New England, US, allowed a two-day weekend so that Jewish workers could observe the Sabbath on Saturdays. Sunday was already a work-free day due to its holy status in Christianity.

In 1926, carmaker Henry Ford gave his staff both days off, and created a 40-hour week for employees.

By 1932, the US had officially adopted the five-day week, to tackle unemployment created by the Great Depression.

The UK followed suit in 1933, when John Boot, from Boots corporation, closed factories on Saturdays and Sundays, and made it the company's

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