Iceland’s Shorter Work Week Trial May Not Serve As Model for U.S.

A new study out of Iceland shows a slightly shorter work week may lead to a better work-life balance.

Researchers call their experiment “an overwhelming success”. In two large-scale trials from 2015 to 2019, a variety of companies in Iceland cut 25-hundred workers weeks from 40 hours down to roughly 35, with no pay reduction. Productivity remained the same or in some cases, improved. However, Lawrence King, the CEO of Headstorm and a Workplace Culture expert, doubts the experiment would be a model used widely in the United States.

“Professional services are going to have a hard switch, when hours are the product that they sell. If they’re billing somebody out at 35 hours a week, that’s a big reduction when they typically bill them out at 40 hours a week,” King said.

He also says reducing hours is difficult within competitive industries trying to keep pace.

“If you’re competitors are not going to switch, then you’re going to have the added burden of trying to sell your products or services against a traditional policy,” King explained. “That’s going to be tough to overcome in the beginning.”

Still, he says the Iceland trials might provide some insight about workplace productivity in the future.

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