A study of 2,500 workers in Iceland explored how shorter work days could impact the wellness, productivity and happiness of the workforce.
Iceland and other Nordic countries have long provided many social services for its citizens, such as income equality, healthcare and paid parental leave. However, Iceland differs from its neighbors in its length of work hours.
From 2015 to 2019, Iceland tested how a 35 hour to 36 hour work week, without reduction in pay, could change the workforce. These trials were incredibly successful and led 86% of the country’s workforce to work shorter hours, or gain the right to reduce their hours.
Subsequently, the research found that productivity remained the same or even improved across the majority of the workplaces that were part of the trial. Employee wellbeing also saw an improvement.
“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,” said Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy. “It shows that the public sector is ripe for being a pioneer of shorter working weeks—and lessons can be learned for other governments.”
The idea of the four day workweek has gained traction in many other areas in the world. For instance, 45 members of Parliament in the UK called for a commission to explore implementing rules that are similar to Iceland’s project.