Mobile game developer Hutch has become the latest in a string of UK firms and the first in the games industry to sign up to trial a 4-day working week as part of a new pilot scheme led by 4 Day Week Global.

The trial, which will take place over a 6-week period starting in June, will see Hutch reduce the weekly working hours of its 120 employees across London, Dundee and Nova Scotia from 40 hours to 32 with no reduction in pay.

The idea of a 4-day working week has been gaining traction across the globe in recent years, with similar trials of the concept soon to start in the US and Canada, and participants of the largest trial which took place in Iceland between 2015 and 2019 calling it an ‘overwhelming success’.

So why is it such an attractive concept? Sustainability and environmental benefits, improved productivity and employee wellbeing are among the reasons given as to why we should all ditch the 5-day week.  Charmaine St John, Head of People at Hutch specifically cited improving gender equality as another reason for joining the trial, hoping that it will allow a better distribution of caring responsibilities amongst parents.

While Hutch is the first game developer to officially sign up to trial a shorter working week, we are seeing an increase in other flexible arrangements such as hybrid style working in the industry and it might not be long before other games companies commit to shaking up traditional working arrangements by adopting a shorter working week, or otherwise.

Before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, changing up ways of working didn’t seem to be on the agenda for most companies in the games industry, being one that relies on constant collaboration and social interaction.  However, as the pandemic continues to normalise home and hybrid working models, many studios are now exploring other options to enable them to expand their talent pool and retain employees seeking more flexibility, for example by hiring workers abroad to work remotely on UK based projects. 

Some companies, such as Japanese headquartered Square Enix (known for games such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest) and Ubisoft (creator of Assassins Creed) have gone as far as committing to a hybrid model on a more permanent basis or even offering staff a work from home only option.

This move towards a more flexible future of work is likely to continue as long as employee well-being remains in the spotlight, but will others follow suit and take the ultimate plunge by introducing a shorter working week? Time will tell.