Is Iceland’s 4 Day Work Week Right For USA?
As work goes through changes from COVID-19, you can be assured that there will be a lot of ideas floating around about how to make changes to benefit companies and their employees.
While the idea of a four-day workweek isn’t new, a recent attempt in Iceland for a shorter workweek is being described as an “overwhelming success,” according to a Forbes magazine report. A study of a little more than 1 percent of Iceland workers, or about 2,500 people, were involved in the study to see if a shortened workday led to more productivity and a happier workforce. Since the study was finished, 86 percent of the country is working shorter hours or has the right to work fewer hours. During the work trial, productivity and service provisions remained the same.
Iceland's study was conducted before COVID-19, running from 2015-to 19, calling for a 35- to 36-hour workweek in a four-day period.
“There is going to be a lot of studying and reporting on new work cultures and environments,” said Alan Hubbard, LandAjob’s Chief Operating Officer. “The Forbes report on Iceland is interesting, because of the reaction of the people who took part in it. One thing that stood out was they weren’t asked to take a pay cut for working fewer hours. That might be a stumbling block for people working in other countries.”
Iceland has longer work hours, according to Forbes, but like the other Nordic countries, has a strong social program, offering health care, income equality, and paid parental leave. With the new work week, workers felt less stress and had better health and work/life balance. The country’s union also negotiated a reduced-hour agreement.
“This study shows that the world’s largest-ever trial of a shorter working week in the public sector was by all measures an overwhelming success. It shows that the public sector is ripe for being a pioneer of shorter working weeks—and lessons can be learned for other governments,” said Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, in the Forbes article.
Spain already has four-day work plans, while Japan is working on a plan, and the United Kingdom is studying it.
“Post-COVID-19, companies and their employees are going to be interested in exploring new looks to their daily workweek,” said Hubbard. “Companies that went to a remote workforce saw savings in their operations, so they will be looking at the cost-saving, thereby eliminating one day, while the employees are going to look at the work/life balance because they have been able to stay at home and spend more time with their families. We are certainly entering an interesting time, and as the Iceland experiment shows, people are looking at things differently.”
LandAjob helps SSDI and SSI beneficiaries receive up to $13,000 in work-supported reimbursements. For more information, go to www.landajob.org.