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.
“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.