• Jonathan Shiek

Iceland Experimented On Shorter Work Week For 4 Years And The Results Are Amazing

Iceland, being the first country in the world to run the largest trial for shorter work week releases the results of the experiment, and not surprisingly, people were happier, healthier, and way more productive! The shorter work week trial ran from 2015 to 2019, while workers moved from a 40-hour work week to 35 or 36-hour work week with no reduction in pay! C’mon Malaysia, it’s time to follow a good example.

The report was prepared by the Association for Sustainability and Democracy in Iceland and think tank Autonomy from the UK, who noted that Iceland’s experiment could be used as a blueprint for future trials around the world. “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, Autonomy’s director of research. “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 test consisted of 2 trial run by Reykjavik City Council and Iceland’s national government, adding both together would make up more than 1% of the country’s workforce. A wide variety of workplaces took part in the trial, including offices, preschools, social service providers, and hospitals.

Regardless of any variables, the results of the experiment was overwhelmingly positive -Duh! Productivity either remained or increased while workers’ wellbeing were considerably improved. Stress and burnout decreased, while health and work-life balance went up, giving workers more time for housekeeping, hobbies, and family time.

That said, due to the trial’s success, Iceland’s trade unions successfully negotiated for permanent reduction of working hours since 2019, which affected tens of thousands of their members. Now, about 86% of Iceland’s workforce either has shorter working hours, or the right to shorten work hours. “We should continue on this journey, and I believe the next step is to reduce working hours to 30 hours per week,” said Icelandic parliament member Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir.

You go Iceland!


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