A Shorter Work Week Really Worked In This Country. Here’s How


The Iceland analysis has been one of many few massive, formal research on the topic.

Even because the Covid-19 pandemic pressured corporations all over the world to reimagine the office, researchers in Iceland had been already conducting two trials of a shorter work week that concerned about 2,500 staff – greater than 1% of the nation’s working inhabitants. 

They discovered that the experiment was an “overwhelming success” – staff had been capable of work much less, receives a commission the identical, whereas sustaining productiveness and enhancing private well-being.

The Iceland analysis has been one of many few massive, formal research on the topic. So how did individuals pull it off and what classes have they got for the remainder of the world? Bloomberg Information interviewed 4 Icelanders, who described among the preliminary issues that accompanied modified schedules, but they had been helped by their organizations which took concerted steps like introducing formal coaching applications on time-management to show them find out how to cut back their hours whereas sustaining productiveness.

The trials additionally labored as a result of each workers and employers had been versatile, keen to experiment and make modifications when one thing did not work. In some instances, employers had so as to add a couple of hours again after chopping them an excessive amount of.  Iceland did the trials partly as a result of folks had been reporting comparatively lengthy working hours, averaging 44.4 hours per week – the third highest of Eurostat international locations in 2018.

Individuals within the Iceland examine decreased their hours by three to 5 hours per week with out dropping pay. Whereas the shorter work hours have to date largely been adopted in Iceland’s public sector, staff and managers used easy strategies to keep up productiveness whereas chopping again on time within the workplace. As workers from Silicon Valley to Wall Avenue search for higher methods to steadiness work and life, listed here are suggestions from 4 Icelanders.

Hjalti Gudmundsson, Director, Workplace for Land and Highway Operation, a authorities company that manages land

As director of capital Reykjavik’s Land and Operation company, Hjalti Gudmundsson manages a crew of about 140 folks. Most of them work open air, on duties like street upkeep, cleansing streets and gardening. Earlier than beginning the trial in 2016, workers labored lengthy hours, normally from 7 a.m. till 5:30 p.m. or later, although work from 3:30 p.m. onwards was counted as time beyond regulation.

For the reason that group has totally different work websites, he was capable of experiment with two totally different fashions concurrently. At some websites, 4 of the 5 work days had been shortened by an hour, permitting employees to complete at 4 p.m. At others, employees labored common hours Monday to Thursday, and a half day on Friday. Salaries had been unchanged, with written agreements between employers and workers. And on the finish of the trial, employees voted for his or her most popular mannequin as a everlasting association. The consequence was clear – greater than 90% of staff needed to shorten their work day by one hour 4 days every week.

“It did not shock me that they needed to try this, as a result of in case you work from 7:30 a.m. to five p.m., the final hour between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. will not be very productive,” explains Gudmundsson. “Contrarily, I believe we have gained productiveness, not solely by this hour. However persons are extra keen to do their jobs within the energetic work time.” 

Those that labored in an workplace had shorter conferences. Those that labored on website spent much less time going to physician’s appointments and bodily remedy, as fewer sick days had been reported. Employees reported having extra time to spend with their households and on hobbies. Many appreciated gaining an additional hour of daylight, particularly through the winter.

Gudmundsson himself has been capable of partially benefit from the shortened work week, and says he goals to decide to the brand new mannequin by the top of the yr. As a supervisor, he desires to steer by instance. “Many of the initiatives can wait till tomorrow morning,” stated Gudmundsson. “It is a mindset, I believe. You simply need to work your method by way of this, you understand?”

Arna Hronn Aradottir, Undertaking Supervisor, Reykjavik Service Centre, one among 5 service facilities run by Reykjavik metropolis offering social service for kids and households

Arna Hronn Aradottir, a public-health mission supervisor in Reykjavik’s suburbs, was one of many first to trial shorter hours as her office was chosen for the experiment in 2015. As a mom of 5 youngsters, Aradottir struggled to steadiness an 8-hour work day with childcare and home tasks. Initially of the trial, she opted to shorten her work day by an hour daily. Her office enrolled her in a time-management course, the place she discovered to shorten conferences, cut back time spent touring for conferences and schedule her work extra effectively.

“I really feel like I am extra targeted now,” stated Aradottir. “Earlier than the pandemic, I spent a variety of time going to a gathering by automotive, however now I can sit in my workplace and have conferences by way of my laptop. So I’ve gained 4 hours in my work day.”

She used to have a 40-hour work week, however now works simply 36 hours for a similar pay taking up common 8-hour days on Monday to Thursday, and 4 hours on Fridays. This in flip has enabled her to check for a grasp’s diploma, enhancing her place on the job market. When there is no faculty, she says she goes biking or mountain climbing, and has extra time for herself.

“The advantages for us is that we had extra high quality of life,” stated Aradottir. “It has helped me to spend extra time with my youngsters and expertise much less stress.”

Solveig Reynisdottir, Director, Reykjavik Service Centre

Solveig Reynisdottir, Aradoottir’s boss, stated Reykjavik Service Centre’s participation was in response to an annual worker survey that exposed that its staff skilled a variety of pressure of their jobs. The middle experimented with the variety of hours they would cut back within the work week, and at one level had so as to add again some hours after chopping an excessive amount of.

“We’ve shortened it 5 hours, then three hours and now 4 hours every week,” stated Reynisdottir. Some elements of the transition didn’t go as easily as anticipated. Staff had been reluctant to go from a 35-hour to 37-hour work week, though it was nonetheless fewer hours than earlier than the trial.

However general, Reynisdottir views the trial as extra constructive than adverse. Productiveness was maintained whereas workers reported higher job satisfaction and fewer sick days that concerned quick diseases like colds.

Like Aradottir, Reynisdottir stated she was capable of preserve productiveness by shortening conferences and changing in-person ones with on-line classes, saving on journey time.”Covid has pushed us in that course,” explains Reynisdottir. “The ready lists will not be longer. The variety of interviews is on par with what was earlier than.”

In truth, the shortened work week has motivated workers to work tougher, she notes. However as a supervisor, Reynisdottir has had extra issue following the shortened work week herself. “Typically there may be a variety of initiatives after which we all know the workload and pressure turns into extra however that evens out whenever you look again an entire yr,” she stated.

“It has made my job simpler to have a shorter work week,” stated Reynisdottir. “The workers are extra happy which is of nice significance for me as a supervisor.”

Saga Stephensen, Undertaking supervisor for multicultural schooling for preschools at Reykjavik Metropolis

Saga Stephensen simply began the shorter work week this January. Collectively, she and her colleagues voted to have a full time without work each different Friday and work common hours the remainder of the time.

Like Aradottir, her office enrolled her in time-management programs that enabled her to shorten and cut back conferences, exchange in-person appointments with on-line ones, thereby chopping journey time as nicely. Her office additionally determined to don’t have any conferences on the Fridays they do work, permitting them to wrap up duties on the finish of the week. 

“That has actually helped as a result of we have now a variety of conferences and also you rethink them,” stated Stephensen. “You consider if you actually need that assembly and whether it is essential.”

It took a while for her and her colleagues to regulate to the brand new schedule. On weeks that she has Friday off, she generally finally ends up working longer hours different days, she famous. However general everyone seems to be happy with the brand new association.

“I believe as a result of folks assume that it is a very constructive factor, everyone seems to be making an attempt exhausting to maintain this up,” stated Stephensen. “We’re additionally urged by our bosses to benefit from our day and take the day off.”

On her Friday off, she now spends time doing family chores, assembly up with household and associates, and every now and then does a brief journey throughout her prolonged weekend. Stephensen additionally finds it simpler to return to work after latest holidays, she stated. “I didn’t really feel unhappy for the vacation to be over as a result of I knew there have been some breaks to sit up for.”

(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)



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