Iceland authorities made an experiment: workers were offered to switch to a four-day work week. The results were called "overwhelming success": all participants say that the initiative has helped to increase efficiency, and they spend the extra day off on family, sports and socialization.
As a result, already 86% of the total working population of Iceland either switched to work with a shorter working day, or have the right to reduce working hours. Iceland also says that their experiment could be an example for other countries.
Employees switched from 40-hour workweeks to 35- or 36-hour workweeks, but received the same wages. The experiment was carried out in two stages: the first was conducted by the city council of Reykjavik, the second - by the government of the country.
How did they compare:
The following indicators were used for the assessment: each workplace requires 20 or more employees (but not less than 30%) to participate. At the same time, 70-100% of employees had to work full-time and perform similar tasks in order to compare their performance.
Who took part in the experiment:
More than 2,500 employees in the public sector (about 1.3% of the total population of Iceland). These are the following areas:
- Internal Revenue Department;
- Icelandic Immigration Office;
- police station (shift officers and with regular schedules);
- department of the hospital (soon joined them).
Kindergarten workers also took part.
“It changed the way of thinking. You start to rethink and become more flexible. Instead of doing the same, usually routine, people suddenly started doing something completely different than before,” - says one of the participants in the experiment in Reykjavik.
At first, the idea raised concerns. The alleged workers will simply end up complementing the "lost hours" with informal overtime work.
But the result was the opposite, and cases of "failure" became the exception. The balance between work and personal life has become harmonious. The workers felt an improvement in their well-being at work.
The reduction in working hours showed the following results:
- maintaining at the same level or increasing the efficiency and quality of service delivery;
- improved well-being at work (they were less likely to experience stress and burnout);
- improving work-life balance.
There was a decrease in procrastination due to the fact that workers would need to do more in a shorter work week.
"Reducing hours indicates respect for a person. That we are not just machines that just work all day, and then sleep and go back to work. We are people with desires and personal lives, families and hobbies," says one of the participants in the experiment.
The participants began to spend more time with their families.
“My older kids know we have shorter working hours and they often say something like 'Dad, is today Tuesday? Did you finish early today? Can I come home right after school? "And I can say “of course”. "Then we go and do something - we are having a good time," says the father, who took part in the experiment.
Experience from other countries
Iceland is not the only country discussing the idea of a four-day work week.
The experiment will begin in Spain in the fall of 2021, El Confidencial reports. The government will offer 200 companies to transfer their employees to a 4-day work week for three years.
Japan is also going to introduce a working four-day period. Now this is an optional requirement - the employer can decide whether to offer this option to his staff.
Sweden previously also tried to reduce office hours and shift everyone from an 8-hour workday to a 6-hour one. But the experiment failed. Initially, in Gothenburg, the mayor's office transferred health workers to such a schedule. The experiment failed in part due to running out of money. It took $ 1.3 million to fill the gaps resulting from the shorter working hours and pay 17 additional health workers. Legislators concluded that it would be too expensive to transfer the entire city to a 6-hour day.