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Iceland’s 4-Day Work Week Trial an “Overwhelming Success” With Workers Happier, More Productive

The “profound” effects of reduced hours were so positive for workers and their families that the whole country will shift to the new schedule.

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Experimental trials of a four-day work week in Iceland have been an “overwhelming success” resulting in higher productivity, increased job satisfaction, and improved quality of life for workers.

The trials, which were run by the national government and city council of Reykjavík between 2015 and 2019, involved over 2,500 Icelandic workers from various public sector worksites such as schools, hospitals, social service providers and offices, reports BBC.

Many workplaces shifted from a 40-hour work week to a 35 or 36-hour week, according to researchers.

Workers with a four-day week reported a reduction in stress levels and burnout, as well as an improvement in their health and work-life balance. Additionally, workers said that they were able to spend more quality time with their children, doing chores, and pursuing hobbies.

“These effects were profound, and the trials were unsurprisingly popular among both staff and managers,” researchers reported. “Importantly, the widespread benefits on physical and psychological health, which we have seen here described by the trials’ participants, were sustained over the trials’ long timespan.”

Unions have used the trials to pursue new agreements with employers, with 86 percent of Iceland’s workers either shifting to shorter hours for the same pay or gaining the right to do so.

“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, the director of research at UK think tank 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.”

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