Shorter workweek trials in Iceland an ‘overwhelming success’

No drop in productivity among workplaces, data shows

Office work. (Photo by fauxels from Pexels)
Office work. (Photo by fauxels from Pexels) (Pexels)

ICELAND – Are shorter workweeks the way of the future? New research from a trial in Iceland shows it could be.

The trials, operated by Iceland and the Reykjavík City Council, included about 1% of Iceland’s workforce. From 2015-2019, Iceland ran two large-scale trials of a reduced working week of 35-36 hours with no reduction in pay.

The trials evolved to include nine-to-five workers alongside those on non-standard shift patterns, and took place in a wide range of workplaces, from offices to schools, social service providers and hospitals.

Some key findings from the published research:

  • Productivity and service provision remained the same or improved across the majority of trial workplaces.
  • Worker wellbeing dramatically increased across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout, to health and work-life balance.
  • The trials also remained revenue neutral for both the city council and the government.

Researchers concluded the trials were an “overwhelming success,” and since completion 86% of the country’s workforce are now working shorter hours or gaining the right to shorten their hours.

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“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,” said Will Stronge, Director of Research at Autonomy.

Other four-day workweek trials are underway in the U.K. and in Spain.

You can read the full report below:

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About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.