Trials of a four-day week in Iceland saw increased productivity and well-being of workers, and hints at the future potential of reduced hours.
A four-day week sounds pretty appealing.
I’m sure one day less of Zoom calls, busy commutes, and annoying co-workers is something of a fantasy for most.
Now, thanks to new trials undertaken by think-tanks, we’ve new evidence to suggest that shorter working weeks may actually be more beneficial for workers and employers than the traditional five-day system.
Between 2015 and 2019, the Reykjavík City Council and Icelandic national government ran trials that included over 2,500 workers – more than 1% of the working population.
These workers, who hailed from preschools, hospitals, offices and more, saw their average hours reduced from a 5-day 40-hour week to 35-36 hours over 4 days, all whilst maintaining the same pay.
As you may expect, this reduced week saw workers less stressed and burnt out, with an overall feeling that their work-life balance had improved. They also reported being able to spend more time doing hobbies and spending time with family.
Such a big improvement in the well-being of employees is even more significant in a time where remote working and the pandemic have taken a toll on the mental health of workers; 82% of professionals working remotely worldwide reported feeling burnt out, and 52% of these believed it was due longer hours as a result of working from home.
What’s even more promising for companies who are already experimenting with a four-day week, such as Kickstarter and Buffer, is that productivity remained the same or even improved in the majority of workplaces during the trials.
Think-tanks reported that both workers and managers adapted their working patterns and changed how they approached tasks to become more efficient and, as a result, were able to deliver the same levels of productivity as before.