The world’s largest ever trial of a four-day working week and reduced working time found that working fewer hours for the same pay led to improved well-being among workers, with no loss in productivity.
In fact, in some places, workers were more productive after cutting back their hours. Researchers have called it an “overwhelming success.”
The Association for Sustainable Democracy (Alda) in Iceland, along with the UK-based thinktank Autonomy, published their findings of two large-scale trials from 2015 to 2019 of a reduced working week with no cut in pay.
Workers who participated in the trials went from a 40-hour work week to a 35-36 hour per week. The study included 2,500 workers, which is roughly 1% of Iceland's working-age population.
The workers were employed across a variety of jobs including working in day cares, assisted living facilities, hospitals, museums, police stations and Reykjavik government offices.
The workers reported feeling less stressed and at risk of burnout, and said their health and work-life balance had improved. They also reported having more time to spend with their families, do hobbies and complete household chores.
Participants also explained how they reduced their hours. A common approach was to make meetings shorter and more focused. One workplace decided that meetings could be scheduled only before 3 p.m. Others replaced them altogether with email or other electronic correspondence.