Story at a glance:

  • A four-day workweek in Iceland is effective in increasing productivity, new trials show.
  • About 2,500 workers, or more than 1 percent of the nation’s working population, were involved.
  • Similar trial tests in Microsoft Japan or Perpetual Guardian in New Zealand show positive results too.

In Iceland, workers had a four-day workweek instead of the traditional five days with no reduction in pay, a trial that was deemed an "overwhelming success."

The result from having a shorter workweek is said to have increased productivity and the improved well-being of the workers, who face burnout and health complications or find difficulty in balancing work and life, The Washington Post reported.


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The research was conducted by The Association for Sustainable Democracy (ALDA), with the assistance from Autonomy, a European organization that has been advocating for shorter workweeks.

From 2015 to 2019, a trial that included office workers, hospital workers, preschools and social services, totaling 2,500 workers — or more than 1 percent of the nation’s working population — shows that workers who worked 35 or 36 hours a week were better off than 40 hours a week.

The trial was initiated thanks to demands from trade unions and civil society organizations wanting shorter workweeks, and the Reykjavik City Council and the Icelandic national government obliged.

"This study shows that the world’s largest ever trial of a shorter working week in the public sector was by all measures an overwhelming success," Will Stronge, director of research at the think tank Autonomy, said in a statement.

The result bears a similar resemblance to other tests before it: Microsoft Japan tried a four-day workweek and noticed a 40-percent increase in productivity, Business Insider reported. Perpetual Guardian switched permanently to a four-day workweek in 2018 after the company saw a 20-percent increase in productivity, The Guardian reported.


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Published on Jul 07, 2021