Working fewer hours for the same pay sounds like a dream for staff, but what's in it for businesses? DERIN CLARK talks to one firm which insists the unusual arrangement is a brilliant idea

Businesses don't get much more traditional than a seafront chippie.

But Platten's Fish and Chips in Wells-next-the-Sea is developing a reputation as one of the region's most innovative and forward-thinking firms.

Last summer, it volunteered to take part in a global trial which saw it cut its staff's hours, without reducing their pay.

The six-month scheme has just ended, but the firm says it was a roaring success and has now announced it plans to continue with the arrangement.

The pilot project was organised by a group called 4 Day Week Global, and saw 70 companies across the UK signing up to give staff a four-day week, while paying them as if they worked for five days.

Similar schemes ran in Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The idea might sound counterintuitive but those behind the project believe such an arrangement can help with productivity and staff recruitment - and that was certainly Platten's experience.


The firm started the trial at the beginning of its busy summer season.

It was looking for a way to stand out from similar local firms in a battle to recruit and retain workers. 

Kirsty Wainwright, the general manager, said that during the trial staff were less tired than they had been before, resulting in fewer sick days and staff absences.

"It is definitely going to be something we carry on with," she added. 

Eastern Daily Press: Kirsty Wainwright, general manager at Platten'sKirsty Wainwright, general manager at Platten's (Image: Kirsty Wainwright)



Under the scheme, staff got 100% pay for 80% of the hours they would usually work. 

The business - which has 25 workers in the off-season and more during the summer - said the trial had not monitored increased turnover or profitability, saying there were too many external influences to make such an analysis meaningful.

Instead, its main focus was on measuring the length of its staff employment and whether seasonal team members - school leavers and students - returned. 

The business also measured absenteeism, including sickness. 

At the end of the trial, the company reported a 74% increase in staff wanting to return - previously the figure was less than 30%.

Eastern Daily Press: The fish and chip shop reported an increase in productivity since introducing the four-day weekThe fish and chip shop reported an increase in productivity since introducing the four-day week (Image: Newsquest)

Ms Wainwright said that the business had also seen a noticeable fall in the number of workers calling in sick.

She added that productivity also significantly increased and remained high throughout the six months. 

Although working reduced hours, staff were still required to do the same amount of work they would have previously completed. 

This pressure to be as productive in fewer hours has seen four-day week projects criticised by some analysts, who say they can create more stress for workers.


Wyatt Watts, a team leader at Platten's and one of those who works a four-day week, said that during the summer season there were really busy periods, which put pressure on staff but that "everyone knew they needed to push through and work harder" during these times. 

Eastern Daily Press: Wyatt Watts from Platten'sWyatt Watts from Platten's (Image: Wyatt Watts)

He added: "There was a better mindset among workers.  

"We had massive bursts where it would be fast-paced, but we knew we would be rewarded by leaving earlier". 

Mr Watts, who has worked at the fish and chip shop for five years, was happy with the four-day week trial, saying it allowed him to have a life outside of work during the summer season, which he wouldn't usually be able to enjoy. 

"Last year was one of the best years I have had at Platten's," he added.


Ms Wainwright said there had been challenges when the trial began.

"We started it right at the beginning of our summer season, which is our busiest time," she said. 

Eastern Daily Press: Platten's faced some challenges with rotas when it introduced the four-day weekPlatten's faced some challenges with rotas when it introduced the four-day week (Image: Newsquest)

"It was initially difficult making sure that shifts were all covered."

The company overcame this by splitting workers into two teams, ensuring that one team would be working when the other was off.  

Ms Wainwright said that "lessons were learned" during its early stages and they realised that listening to the team and getting their feedback was vital to making it a success. 


Results of the global project are not expected to be released until next month.

But data published half way through the trial showed that 86% of companies taking part said it was working well and they were likely to stick with the arrangement.

Blink SEO, a digital marketing firm in Norwich, did not take part in the project, but has been operating on a four-day week since 2018.

Staff work four days, Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5.30pm, and have a three-day weekend.

Sam Wright, founder and managing director, said that since it was introduced staff productivity had increased. He said it had also helped recruit and retain staff.