Iceland: Four-Day Work Week Trial A Success
Iceland’s four-day work week trials were recently deemed an “overwhelming success” by researchers, citing improved or maintained productivity levels in the office as well as increased happiness levels for workers.
The trials, which were held from 2015 to 2019, were two large-scale trials conducted by the Icelandic government, city authorities and BSRB, one of the major trade union confederations in Iceland. In the trials, over 2,500 workers—over one per cent of Iceland’s working population—reduced their 40-work week to 35 to 36 hours with no pay reduction.
Researchers found that not only did productivity and service provision showed improvement or remained largely the same, but the workers’ well-being also dramatically increased with less perceived stress and burnout and improved health and work-life balance.
Since the completion of the two trials, 86 per cent of Iceland’s workforce have adapted to shorter working hours or gained the right to shorten their workweek.
The call for shorter working hours without a reduction in pay has grown increasingly prominent across Europe in the last few years. In the rest of the world, work-life balance has been one of the most talked-about topics during Covid-19 as many of us struggled to find downtime with the new work-from-home module.
Luckily, it seems like more companies are realising the benefits of prioritising their employee’s well-being. Just last month, Bumble’s CEO gave their staff an extra week off to recover from burnout, while numerous companies around the world have adapted optional work-from-home policies to provide staff with more flexibility.
When it comes to citizens’ satisfaction levels, Iceland has been continuously leading on top. From its generous social safety net for citizens, to its quality healthcare system and generous paid parental leave for both parents, it’s no wonder that Iceland's capital was recently named the world’s least stressful city in the world.