Four-day working week trial

A three-month trial of a four-day week for desk-based staff at the Council is taking place, having started in January 2023. 

At a meeting of the Council’s Cabinet that was held on Monday 12 September 2022, Cabinet Members agreed to proceed with the trial. We then published a news release that contains a summary of why the trial is taking place. 

Similar trials have been taking place at other organisations around the world. Those trials are run by 4 Day Week Global, in partnership with academic researchers, including those at Cambridge University. The results from two of the first trials – which involved 33 companies and more than 900 staff over six months - have recently been published. 4 Day Week Global say that they have been ‘a resounding success on virtually every dimension’. 

A four-day week is when people deliver 100% of their work in 80% of their contracted hours for 100% of their pay. We think a four-day week will help us attract and keep talented colleagues. Not being able to fill vacant posts – or switching between agency staff to cover them – is both costly and disruptive to services for residents. For example, when case officers change during the process of a planning application, it can cause delays and frustration because a lot of context and institutional memory is lost. The trial is also about testing whether we can improve the health and wellbeing of colleagues.

Four-day weeks require everyone to become more productive – so that we can do all our work in 80% of our contracted hours. It’s not about doing less work. It’s about working smarter and being more productive while we’re at work, with the benefit of having extra time off. It’s a ‘reciprocal deal’ between the Council and colleagues.

It is important to note that our opening hours during the trial will be maintained so that they are at least the same as they were before the trial. The Council will remain open as usual and will not simply be closing for one day per week during the trial. You can continue to contact us, as you have always been able to.

If you have any questions about the trial, or would like to make a comment about the trial arrangements, then please just complete the short form below. If you would like someone to get back to you, please remember to leave your email address.

The Council’s Employment and Staffing Committee will receive update reports and be asked to report back with recommendations following the end of the trial.

We share some services, including our Greater Cambridge Shared Planning and Greater Cambridge Shared Waste teams, with Cambridge City Council. Therefore, Cambridge City Council’s Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee will also receive update reports relating to the performance of the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service during the development and pilot phases, as well as on wider workforce insights emerging from the pilot. If the three-month trial is successful, South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils will consider expanding the trial to involve bin crews later next year.