A trial of a 35-hour workweek without a corresponding drop in compensation among 2,500 workers in Iceland has shown the ole’ punch clock’s feeding schedule may truly not be the most productive form of labor.
The report, conducted by the think tank Autonomy, and another one called the Association for Sustainability and Democracy, found that negative markers like burnout, stress, necessary overtime, and disconnection with friends and family all went down, as would be expected, but that productivity remained at worst unchanged, and often improved in those working shorter hours.
The trials were such a success that following their conclusion in 2019, mass renegotiation by labor unions means that 86% of Icelanders are now working non-traditional work weeks which could include 5-6 hour working days or four-day working weeks.
“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,” said Will Stronge, director of Autonomy. “It shows that the public sector is ripe for being a pioneer of shorter working weeks—and lessons can be learned for other governments.”
Icelanders, unlike their Scandinavian neighbors, tend to work more even though the 21st century has been categorized in that part of the world with an increase in productivity paired with a decrease in working hours.