Iceland’s Four-Day Week Offers Blueprint for the Future

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Who doesn’t want to work a four-day week instead of five? The concept is extremely compelling for some countries and governments for a variety of reasons. A case in point is Iceland, which has recently published the results of two four-day-week trials undertaken in 2015 and 2017.

The results are eye-opening, with researchers claiming the results show that workers were happier, more motivated, and more productive. Moreover, the research indicates that a four-day week would also be better for the environment.

The Results

Results from the study are staggering. The research indicates that workers in Iceland who switched to the shorter working week were generally happier and less prone to stress or burnout. By having an extra day to themselves to take care of personal matters and spend time with friends and family, workers were able to recalibrate more effectively between working weeks.

Astonishingly, the research indicates that the workers were no less productive for working one less day per week. In fact, the study found that their productivity, as well as overall revenue, was unchanged. This alone is an astonishing find, as it suggests that many companies are forcing workers to conform to a five-day workweek for literally no other reason than habit.

Green Living

Notably, the study in Iceland had little interest in the overall climate impact of the four-day week. However, the research does support that fewer people on the roads commuting to and from work every week would, naturally, be a net positive for the environment.

Additionally, fewer people working would result in less energy being spent, less fast food being purchased, and less waste is generated. This is a huge step for the climate, some activists note, as it would allow for a combination of factors to push for a greener world.

Exhausting People–and the Planet

Activists argue that the current way of doing things is unsustainable. Not just for the planet, but for workers. While companies continue to prioritize economic growth over sustainability, the planet’s resources continue to be heavily taxed. Likewise, workers experience burnout, stress, and a poor work/life balance as a result of the focus on profits over people.

By moving to a system that is more conscious of workers’ needs and the needs of the planet, companies can help themselves in the long run. After all, it’s hard to do business if the planet is out of resources and the workers are all too exhausted to be productive.