Iceland’s Four-Day Work Weeks Have Been An “Overwhelming Success”

Iceland Four Day Work Week
Credit: The Retreat At Blue Lagoon Iceland

As Japan’s government proposes a similar type of deal, which itself was inspired by Spain, Iceland has revealed its own four-day work week trials have been an “overwhelming success” – with the black-letter research to back its claims.

Undertaken by Reykjavik City Council in partnership with the country’s wider government, the four-day work week trials were held from 2015 to 2019, involving a grand total of 2,500 workers from a whole variety of professions (that’s approximately 1% of the entire work force in Iceland).

Hospital staff, kindergarten teachers, office drones, and so forth had their 40-hour weekly grind period cut down by 20% to 35 or 36-hour cycles while receiving the exact same pay. The result? Aside from the obvious outcomes of livelier + more well-rested employees with far better work-life balances – not to mention, more time to hit up them geothermal lagoon pubs – productivity also experienced a noticeable boost. And since the trial’s completion, 86% of the national workforce are now either logging in fewer hours or gaining the right to log fewer hours.



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“Organisation was key to working less – and the reward of reduced hours provoked people to organise their work more efficiently – with changes made to how meetings were run, as well as schedules, and in some cases to opening hours,” explains the official report.

“In some instances, meetings were avoided by instead sending emails or exchanging information electronically.”

“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,” says Will Stronge, Director of Research at 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.”

Like we’ve said before, 2020 has only confirmed what many of us have suspected for years when it comes to flexible working conditions: the job will get done, the people at head office just need to chill out. With two stellar case studies on the books and a third potentially on the way from the Land of the Rising Sun, now we wait for the turkeys in Canberra to smarten up and roll it out.

Iceland Four Day Work Week