Is a four-day week on its way? Britons could move to shorter working pattern after Covid pandemic, says workplace tsar

  • Peter Cheese said there was a ‘generational opportunity’ to change work patterns after millions spent months setting up office at home
  • Flexible working ‘can and should’ be as acceptable as a five-day working week, the chairman of the government’s Flexible Working Taskforce said
  • The Government is committed to a ‘default’ right to flexible working, Cheese said

Britain could gradually move to a four-day working week following the pandemic, an official adviser on the future of the workplace said yesterday.

Peter Cheese, chairman of the government’s Flexible Working Taskforce, said there was a ‘generational opportunity’ to change traditional working patterns after months of setting up office at home.

Mr Cheese said so-called flexible working ‘can and should be seen as just as much an acceptable way of working as a more standard five-day working week’. 

He said flexible working, which can include working at home, would come to be seen as ‘a norm, not an exception’. 

He told the Politico website: ‘What we refer to as the standard five-day working week, that’s what will begin to change. And it could emerge in lots of different forms, one of which could be a four-day working week.’

He added: ‘I don’t think we’re at that point. But, who knows? I think if we can really make some of these things work for us, if we can really make technology enable a better balance of work, and all those other things help us all, then maybe we will see more of those sorts of things being adopted.’

Britain could gradually move to a four-day working week following the pandemic, an official adviser on the future of the workplace said yesterday [Stock image] 

Mr Cheese criticised the ‘mixed messaging’ from Government on whether those working from home should return to the office after the pandemic. 

The work-from-home message is in contrast to data showing visitor numbers to London’s royal parks are returning to normal levels.

Regent’s Park now has visitor numbers equal to pre-pandemic levels and Hyde Park is at about 80 per cent.

The number of workers in central London travelling into offices is at about only 30 per cent of usual levels, however.

The taskforce will report to ministers in the coming weeks.

The Government is committed to a ‘default’ right to flexible working. Mr Cheese, head of industry group the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said firms should be left to resolve arrangements with staff, rather than being told how to act by ministers.

The work-from-home message is in contrast to data showing visitor numbers to London’s royal parks are returning to normal levels. Pictured: Sunbathers in Regent’s Park in late May

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