According to a new study, a shortened workweek led to better outcomes for workers and employers.
Global News reports that the study involved shortening people’s working hours without trimming their pay, to determine how it would affect health, happiness, and productivity. The experiment included 2,500 workers across several industries between 2015 to 2019. This experiment was run by the U.K.-based think tank Autonomy and Iceland’s Association for Sustainable Democracy (Alda).
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Many employers cut back the hours for their workweek from 40 to 35 or 36 hours, Alda said. Workplaces also focused on efficiency during these shortened hours by cutting meetings, altering work patterns and re-organizing shift work. The study reported a “dramatic” improvement in overall well-being. Researchers said that productivity improved or remained the same in a majority of cases.
“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 research at 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.”
Iceland’s workers unions have pushed to renegotiate their work schedules as a result of the trial. Roughly 86% of the country’s workforce has either shifted to the new model or will so in the future, researchers said. The large-scale trial is expected to inspire other places around the world working on similar experiments.