POSTED: July 07 2021
Four-day week 'an overwhelming success'

Four-day week ‘an overwhelming success’ in Iceland

Trials of a four-day week in Iceland were an “overwhelming success” and led to many workers moving to shorter hours, researchers have said.

The trials took place between 2015 and 2019, and saw workers paid the same amount for shorter hours.

Productivity remained the same, or improved in the majority of workplaces, researchers from Alda and Autonomy said. A number of other trials are now being run across the world as a result of the findings.

The trials in Iceland were run by Reykjavík City Council and the national government initially. This eventually grew to include more than 2,500 workers, around 1% of the working population in the country. A range of workplaces took part including preschools, offices, social service providers, and hospitals.

Most of those studied moved from a 40-hour week to a 35- or 36-hour week, researchers said.

As a result of the trials, unions have renegotiated working patterns, and now 86% of Iceland’s workforce have moved to shorter hours for the same pay – or will gain the right to.

Workers on the shorter hours reported feeling less stressed and at less risk of burnout, and said their health and work life balance had improved, also reporting having more time to spend with their families, doing hobbies and complete household chores.

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said: “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.

“It shows that the public sector is ripe for being a pioneer of shorter working weeks – and lessons can be learned for other governments.”

Gudmundur Haraldsson, a researcher at Alda, said: “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.”

Spain is piloting a four day working week for companies in part due to the challenges of coronavirus, and consumer goods giant Unilever is giving staff in New Zealand a chance to cut their hours by 20% without hurting their pay in a trial.

Original article here.