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Icelandic trials studying shorter workweeks hailed as overwhelming successes

Iceland Election
Posted at 11:30 AM, Jul 06, 2021

REYKJAVIK — Two large-scale trials conducted in Iceland to study the advantages of shorter workweeks are being hailed as overwhelming successes.

The Association for Sustainability and Democracy (Alda) and the UK-based think-tank Autonomy published the first comprehensive report on the Icelandic trials of shorter hours.

The trials were conducted amid calls in Europe and elsewhere for shorter working hours without reducing pay, which is often framed in terms of a “four-day week.”

The trials were run by both the city of Reykjavik and the Icelandic government from 2015 to 2019. They studied 2,500 people who worked 35 to 36 hours a week with no reduction in pay. That’s about 1% of Iceland’s entire working population.

“The trials were an overwhelming success, and since completion, 86% of the country’s workforce are now working shorter hours or gaining the right to shorten their hours,” wrote Alda in a statement.

In the trials, Alda says productivity and “service provision” remained the same or improved across the majority of trial workplaces.

The wellbeing of workers also dramatically increased across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout to health and work-life balance, according to Alda.

“The trials also remained revenue neutral for both the city council and the government, providing a crucial, and so far largely overlooked blueprint of how future trials might be organized in other countries around the world,” wrote Alda.