Balance

A 4-day work-week. To some it’s the way of the future, to others it’s unrealistic.

Iceland recently conducted the widest experiment on the proposition to date. Run by the local government, 2,500 workers (over 1% of Iceland’s working population) enjoyed a 3-day weekend. With hours reduced from 40h to ~35h each week, and pay remaining constant, the study reported increases in happiness, productivity and decreases in stress. Perhaps the most impressive finding, those workplaces involved saw no impact on their revenue.

One concern of shortened working weeks is that work gets rushed or condensed into fewer days. Workers simply spend more time off the clock grinding to fulfil their employer’s demands. In fact, the study found that workers were more efficient in how work was structured to ensure it could be completed within the new working hours. One of the most popular ways to do so? Turning a would-be meeting into an email!

Since the results were first published, 86% of Iceland’s workforce is either working shorter hours or in the process of shortening hours.

In 2019, Microsoft ran 4-day weeks in their Japanese offices. Running the trial over a month, shorter workweeks coupled with subsidised vacations led to a 40% increase in productivity.

Surprising no-one, 74% of office workers said they would prefer a 4-day week. Who are the 26% trying to impress?. 


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