Plans to introduce a four-day working week in Scotland are expected to accelerate within the next decade, according to a new report.
More than a third of firms say they expect a reduced working week to be implemented by 2032 amid a trial of the practice at 70 companies across the UK.
Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found just 2% of businesses who have not yet reduced hours without scaling back pay plan to do so within the next three years.
But 34% of those surveyed said they expected a four-day week to become commonplace in the next ten years – as long as efficiency and adoption of new technology is improved.
Marek Zemanik, senior public policy adviser for the CIPD in Scotland, said: “Some businesses will find such a move easier than others depending on their size and sector.
“The major sticking point is the need to increase productivity by 25% to make up for the output lost from fewer days of work. This came through in our findings with a majority of employers saying they would need to work smarter and adopt new technology in order to reduce working hours without cutting pay.”
He added: “Businesses should continue to listen to their workforce, look at the evidence and consider how they can pilot new ways of working and achieve the win-win for staff of working fewer hours without losing pay.”
The Scottish Government is planning its own series of trials of the working pattern next year.
Around 3,300 workers from across the UK are currently involved in a national pilot promoted by the Autonomy thinktank, the 4 Day Week campaign and a number of researchers from leading universities.
Those who have already reduced working hours for staff cited increased employee wellbeing and improved recruitment and retention among their motivating factors for the trial.
The vast majority of Scottish workers, around 62%, said they were “happy” with their current hours, according to CIPD analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) labour force data.
However a further 30% would like to work on a reduced pattern.
Productivity has improved for nearly half of the companies involved in the UK-wide trial, while 86% of respondents said they would be “extremely likely” and/or “likely” to consider the idea of retaining a four-day week when the pilot ends, according to early data released last month.
Mr Zemanik added: “The increase in interest in the four-day working week is understandable. The rationale behind the move is a positive one – to give people more leisure time and improve their wellbeing while increasing their productivity to compensate.
“The current trials, as well as the future trials planned by the Scottish Government, are a welcome attempt to plug the evidence gap, help provide insights for other employers that would like to make the shift to the four-day week and make a stronger case for the benefits.”