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Study: Iceland's four-day workweek 'overwhelming success'

The study tracked 2,500 employees who worked 35 to 36 hours per week without a pay cut.

WASHINGTON — Researchers in Iceland found that a four-day workweek, without a pay cut, improved worker's wellbeing dramatically.

The study, published by the independent think tank Autonomy, followed 2,500 workers in Iceland for four years to see how they would react to only 35 to 36 hours of work a week instead of 40. The researchers said after tracking workers from 2015 to 2019, it was "by all measures an overwhelming success."

Productivity and services provided "remained the same or improved," according to the study. It also found that workers' wellbeing "dramatically increased across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout, to health and work-life balance."

Researchers said the study included a large scope of workers from those who work at hospitals, social service providers to school teachers and office workers.

"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. "Iceland has taken a big step towards the four-day working week, providing a great real-life example for Local Councils and those in the UK public sector considering implementing it here in the UK.”

Following the successful study, Autonomy claimed Icelandic trade unions and their confederations reduced its work hours for tens of thousands of their members across the country.

"By the time of this report’s publication in June 2021, 86% of Iceland’s working population are now on contracts that have either moved them to shorter working hours, or give them the right to do so in the future," the study said.

Similar studies are now being conducted across the globe, including in Spain and in New Zealand.