Four-day working week trial

A trial of a four-day week for 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 an initial three-month trial. We then published a news release that contains a summary of why the trial is taking place. At the Cabinet meeting on 15 May 2023, Cabinet members agreed to extend the trial for 12 months after independently-analysed data showed the first trial had been a success.

The Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge was asked to independently review the Council’s data from the initial three-month trial, to ensure it was analysed without any risk of bias. They analysed data from 18 different key areas, covering performance in Planning, Housing, Transformation, Human Resources and Corporate Services and Finance.

The data shows:

  • Nine out of the 16 areas monitored show substantial improvement when comparing the trial period from January to March to the same period in 2022.
  • The remaining seven areas monitored either remain at similar levels compared to the same period last year or saw a slight decline.
  • The Bennett Institute noted however that not a single area of performance fell to a concerning level during the trial.

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.

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. A trial of this way of working for our Greater Cambridge Shared Waste teams is also in development and, pending the agreement of Cambridge City Council, will take place in the summer of 2023.