An Icelandic research project found that reducing the work week to four days had very positive outcomes for workers’ well-being and productivity.
Icelandic researchers found that a four-day work week resulted in no loss in productivity, with production improving even during the trial period for some workers.
About 1 piece of the country’s workforce is switching four days a week without wage cuts as part of the trials, conducted by Reykjavik City Council and the Icelandic government in collaboration with researchers from two think tanks.
2,500 workers in various workplaces, including nurseries, offices, social service providers and hospitals, have gone from 40 hours a week to 35 or 36 hours a week, “with overwhelming success,” according to the researchers.
The trials, which took place between 2015 and 2019, led to unions renegotiating work models, and now 86% of the Icelandic workforce has switched to shorter working hours for the same pay or will have the right to do so.
So say researchers from the Association for Sustainable Democracy (Alda) in Iceland and the Autonomy Research Center in the UK.
Will Strong, Director of Research at Autonomy, said: “This study shows that the world’s largest trial of a shorter work week in the public sector has been in every way a resounding success.
This shows that the public sector has matured to be a leader in shorter working weeks – and lessons can be learned for other governments. “
Workers who participated in the study reported better job satisfaction and better general well-being. One participant said he no longer feels like a machine thanks to the change. ” this is [reduction in hours] Shows increased respect for the individual.
Alda Gudmundur researcher D Haraldsson said: “A shorter work week in Iceland tells us that not only is it possible to work less in modern times, but gradual change is also possible.”
Other countries are following the example of Iceland. Spain is trialling a four-day work week for companies following the challenges workers have faced during the pandemic.
Consumer goods company Unilever is giving its New Zealand employees the opportunity to cut working hours by 20% without affecting their pay during the trial.
The Irish organization Four Day Week Ireland also recently launched a pilot program to review Ireland’s position on work-life balance after the pandemic.
As part of the trial in Ireland, up to €150,000 will be made available to support research focused on areas such as energy consumption, employment levels, employee productivity, gender equality and job satisfaction.
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