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Study: Shorter Work Weeks Maintain Productivity, Reduce Worker Stress

  • Results released from two large-scale trials in Iceland on the effect of reducing the work week to 35 or 36 hours
  • Researchers concluded that improved personal well-being resulted in better work performance and no negative impact on productivity
  • Participants also reported a better work-life balance, with more time for personal activities and reduced stress at home

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Workers with reduced work weeks remain productive while enjoying stress reduction and a variety of other benefits, according to the results of two large-scale trials in Iceland.

Between 2015 and 2019, the research firms Alda and Autonomy monitored about 2,500 workers whose hours were reduced from 40 hours to 35 or 36 hours. The reduction was made without decreasing the workers’ pay, and the research covered a range of industries.

Results of the trials included:

  • Workers experienced lower levels of stress and felt more energized, resulting in improved personal well-being
  • This effect led to better work performance, which meant that productivity was not negatively impacted
  • Other benefits included an improved work-life balance, such as more time for exercise, running errands, taking part in home duties, and spending time with family; this also resulted in lower stress levels at home
  • Following the trials, about 86 percent of Iceland’s workforce has moved to a shorter work week or has the option to do so

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