Iceland has made headlines recently with the declaration of the world’s biggest trial of a 4-day workweek in the public sector being labeled as a resounding success.
More than 2,500 workers switched to a 35/36-hour workweek and the results were staggering. The majority of individuals involved in this experiment reported that they felt happier, healthier and less stressed.
Due to these motivating results, Iceland is now moving to make this a permanent feature for the majority of its workforce.
The ‘Rat Race’
This experiment goes against everything we’ve come to believe about the modern world, especially in Western society.
It seems that the 4-day working week isn’t just for the public sector, it also appeals to many private companies that are opting towards the shorter workweek. By doing so, they are finding out that the work being produced is less distracted and gives people more time for leisure activities.
Shorter workweeks allowed for increased productivity and creativity in each individual’s work endeavours, improved recruitment and retention with employees. Overall, job satisfaction increased dramatically, with both founders and leaders feeling less burnout from being at work. This creates a more balanced and sustainable life for workers, all without cutting salaries or reducing the standard of customer service.
The implementation of a shorter workweek would give employees the opportunity to better balance their career commitments and the goals they have for their personal lives. One of the most significant driving forces towards a marginalised workweek is the policies surrounding childcare. Most employees who take time off are women needing the time off to cater for their children.
A 4-day workweek would eliminate the gendered gap, providing a more equitable approach to accommodating the needs of employees with strict familial values.
By narrowing the working week, we can actually see engagement levels rise significantly. While an ultimately happy workforce might seem a long way off, providing a flexible schedule will do wonders for the morale of the employees, no matter the role or level of seniority.
A shortened workweek also means that employees are less inclined to take as many sick days, or days off due to stress. Since there is more time spent outside of the office, they have the opportunity to rest, heal and recover, meaning they can get back to work ready to onboard new challenges and tasks.
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