Technology firm forced to axe four-day week trial because it made staff more stressed and was ‘the opposite of what we were trying to accomplish’

Technology firm forced to axe four-day week trial because it made staff more stressed and was ‘the opposite of what we were trying to accomplish’

  • Internet services company Krystal will be returning to a five-day working week  

A technology firm halted its four-day working week trial after it made staff more stressed with the boss saying results were ‘the opposite of what we were trying to accomplish’. 

Internet services company Krystal started the shorter week in June and planned to continue with the experiment for six months.

The company hoped to improve staff wellbeing following research saying four-day weeks could increase productivity by 40 per cent.

However, the trial was axed and staff will return to a normal five-day week today after Krystal founder Simon Blackler admitted it hadn’t worked. 

In an email to customers published by the Times, Mr Blackler wrote: ‘While team members did have the benefit of an extra day off, we discovered that the extra recovery time did not increase output by the 20 per cent necessary to replace that which had been lost.’

Krystal, based in London, tried the four-day working week but said it didn’t work 

Krystal founder Simon Blackler said the extra time off did not increase output

Krystal founder Simon Blackler said the extra time off did not increase output 

‘While the team fought admirably to keep on top of work and turned around responses as quickly as possible it came at a cost — work time was now much more stressful than before. 

‘During the trial you may have experienced support that was slower than you’re used to or not the usual quality. If that’s the case then I’d like to apologise and can reassure you that things will be returning to normal next week.’

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 official policy the next year.  

Mr Blacker said he is still glad they tried and have improved work-life balance by shortening their working day to finish at 5pm instead of 6pm. 

This comes after a poll in March found that almost two-thirds of workers would prefer working a four-day week. 

A survey of 12,000 people, carried out by employment firm Hays, found that nearly two in three workers would favour the switch.

One in three employers said they would be more likely to accommodate the switch if staff spent all four days on-site. 

Just under two in three workers said they would consider switching jobs if another company offered a shorter working week. 

The poll followed a study which claimed a  four-day working week really does work

For a six-month period starting in June 2022, 61 UK companies reduced their employees’ working hours by 20 per cent, with no changes made to their salary.

Staff who took part were surveyed throughout the trial, and 71 per cent reported lower levels of burnout than before, while 39 per cent said they were less stressed.

All the while, the majority of bosses found productivity targets continued to be met, and they even benefitted from a 1.4 per cent increase in revenue on average.

The programme was coordinated by campaign groups 4 Day Week Global and 4 Day Week Campaign in the UK, think tank Autonomy and academics at the University of Cambridge and Boston College in the US.

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