Waterwise puts staff wellbeing first with permanent move to four day week 

Environmental campaigners Waterwise has announced that they’ve moved to a permanent four day week – bringing benefits in staff wellbeing, financial stability, and impact on driving water efficiency in the UK. 

In June 2022, the Waterwise team, along with around 70 other UK organisations across different sectors, embarked on the UK Four Day Week (4DW) trial. The 4DW is 80% of contracted hours for 100% of contracted pay – not simply a four day week paid at 0.8 of a full-time salary, or compressed hours. 4DW Global, the not-for-profit organisation which ran the UK trial, has been listed as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential Companies, alongside Apple and Disney.

After a full year’s trial, organisational and staff metrics at Waterwise showed that not only had staff wellbeing – already at a high level – improved, but finances were even stronger than a comparative year. Crucially, external impact in delivering against Waterwise’s vision that water is used wisely every day, everywhere, by everyone, could clearly be seen.

Nicci Russell, Waterwise CEO said:

“It was fantastic being part of the UK trial, and the team were excited and well up for it. We designed changes to how we work together. It’s amazing how much time moving to a default of 30 minutes rather than an hour for meetings can save you!

“I am so proud that Waterwise is in the vanguard of social and economic change, in moving to a Four Day Week, first as a trial and now permanently. The Five Day Week is an accident of social history – there is no specific reason for it, it was simply a reduction from the 6 and 7 day week! At Waterwise we have shown that it can reap fantastic dividends. It has also helped raise our Waterwise voice and vision nationally and internationally to people and organisations who hadn’t heard of us before – helping us in our water efficiency mission.

“I do get requests from lots of organisations to talk to them about my experience. There are two things I always say. One – go for it, and do a trial. Get in touch with 4DW Global who are the experts. Two – it doesn’t happen by magic! You simply cannot lose a fifth of your working week and carry on working as before. As a team and as individuals, you must embrace working differently, and then you will reap the rewards.”

Laura White, Waterwise Projects and Research Manager and Wellbeing Champion, said:

“Being a people-led and pioneering organisation which drives change meant taking part in the UK Four Day Week trial seemed like a great thing to do. The trial allowed us to test out how the Four Day Week could work for us as an organisation based on how we operate and what our priorities are – ultimately, allowing us to try to maximise the benefits as there isn’t just one approach. As an employee, co-designing changes to how we worked together as a whole team, plus feeling able to provide honest feedback as we went through this change to our work pattern, was so important.

“Both the Four Day Week trial and making the move to it permanently are key planks in Waterwise’s Wellbeing Action Plan, as part of our commitment to having a positive (not just neutral) impact on staff wellbeing. On a personal level, I certainly feel like I have more balance in my life, reducing my overall stress levels and improving my wellbeing.”

Alex Pang, Four Day Week Global Partners and Global Programs Director, said:

“Not-for-profits are struggling with burnout, work-life balance, recruitment and retention, and career sustainability, just like startups, corporations, and governments. Waterwise was one of the first not-for-profits to recognise that a shorter workweek could help address these problems, and could be implemented in ways that strengthened the organisation’s mission, delivery of services, and long-term viability.”




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