Four-day working week

The world’s largest trial of a four-day working week has been hailed an “overwhelming success” prompting calls for similar research to be carried out in the UK.

From 2015–2019, Reykjavík City Council and the Iceland national government, ran large-scale trials across a range of workplaces, including preschools, offices, social service providers and hospitals. These involved more than 2,500 workers from various occupations, shifting from a 40-hour week to 35 or 36-hour weeks, without a reduction in pay.

Researchers from UK think tank Autonomy and Iceland’s Association for Sustainable Democracy (Alda), have now analysed the results and found that, while the trials were revenue neutral, both productivity and service provision improved or remained the same for the majority of trial workplaces. In addition, worker wellbeing rose dramatically across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout, to health and work-life balance.

Gudmundur Haraldsson, a researcher at Alda, commented, “The Icelandic shorter working week journey tells us that not only is it possible to work less in modern times, but that progressive change is possible too. Our roadmap to a shorter working week in the public sector should be of interest to anyone who wishes to see working hours reduced.”