A shorter four day working week experiment was developed in Iceland by Reykjavík City Council and the national government with the participation of 2,500 people. Public sector employees taking part in two large trials between 2015 and 2019 worked 35-36 hours per week, with no reduction in pay. Now, at the time of evaluation, the experiment is considered an “overwhelming success” by researchers. In fact, the trial increasing productivity while improving work-life balance. Following the trials, Icelandic trade unions negotiated reductions in working hours for tens of thousands of their members across the country. This is affecting 86% of Iceland’s entire working population. The joint analysis, carried out by the think tanks Autonomy in the UK and the Association for Sustainability and Democracy (Alda) in Iceland, found that the well-being of workers who took part improved dramatically across a range of indicators.
„Lessons can be learned for other governments,” Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said. A growing number of small companies have already adopted a shorter working week and now, bigger corporations are investigating the potential benefits of the change. Microsoft trialed a four-day workweek in Japan in 2019 with good results. The idea of a four day week has some support in the UK, with 45 MPs from parties including Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the SDLP and the Green Party signing an early day motion calling on the government to set up a commission to examine the proposal.