Worker unions, employers, and governments have been deliberating over whether or not to implement the four-day workweek in their workspaces for years now.
The movement has been gaining traction because, surprise surprise, the four-day workweek has been shown to work.
Now, Iceland has taken it up a notch and proven it with the world’s largest trial of a shorter working week.
An analysis of the results was finally published this week, and yep, everyone was happier, healthier, and more productive.
From 2015 to 2019, two large-scale trials of the program were undertaken by researchers at the Association for Sustainable Democracy (Alda) in Iceland, along with the UK-based thinktank Autonomy, CBS News reports.
The researchers said that Iceland’s experiment could be used as a “blueprint” for future trials around the world as it was an “overwhelming success” and is already leading to permanent changes:
“It shows that the public sector is ripe for being a pioneer of shorter working weeks, and lessons can be learned for other governments,” said Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy.
The study included 2 500 workers, which is roughly 1% of Iceland’s working-age population.
Workers were moved from 40-hour workweeks to 35 or 36-hour weeks with no reduction in pay, and a wide variety of workplaces took part, including offices, preschools, social service providers, and hospitals.
Not all participants worked traditional nine-to-five jobs either, with workers on non-traditional shift times also included.
The results were overwhelmingly positive throughout with both managers and staff considering the trials a major success.
Productivity either stayed the same or improved, worker wellbeing improved, perceived stress and burnout went down, and health and work-life balance went up.
It sounds too good to be true but according to Alda researcher Gudmundur D. Haraldsson, “the Icelandic shorter working week journey tells us that not only is it possible to work less in modern times but that progressive change is possible too.”
According to The Independent, Icelandic trade union federations, which collectively negotiate wages and conditions for most Icelandic employees, have already begun to negotiate reduced working hours as a result, with 86% of employees already benefitting.
Let’s hope that the four-day workweeks we Saffas are granted around the major public holidays become more of a thing throughout the year.
That would be nice.
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