Wellbeing

Is this the end of 9-5?! Four-day working week proven to benefit staff

Employers in Iceland recognise link between work and wellness

To the four-day working week party-poopers who think it will lead to less graft and more pub trips, it’s time to eat your hat.

Evidence shows that less is more when it comes to work, and by switching from five to four days each week, we will see a huge drop in stress while also boosting productivity.

A study carried out by our friends over in Iceland trialled a 35-hour week, without wages being affected, for 2,500 staff that proved work and wellbeing can go hand-in-hand.

It was discovered that pulling back on the 9-5 not only eliminated burnout, but also the need for overtime and prevented disconnection from friends and family.

[Credit: Firmbee Com]

Throughout the experiment, productivity either remained unchanged or improved in shorter working hours, it never worsened.

This is a huge breakthrough, with burnout known to affect mental health, cause excessive stress, induce insomnia, and even increase high blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

If introduced in the UK, or other countries, it could also significantly reduce the amount of people on public transport during rush hour and make travelling less stressful.

[Credit: Tim Van Der Kuip]

Our long working days not only pose a threat to our health, they are also outdated, created in a time before the internet and file-sharing could be done at the click of a button.

It is believed the eight-hour workday dates back to the 1800s, invented by American labour unions, before going mainstream by motoring giant Henry Ford in the 1920s.

Fortunately for Icelanders, those in power listened, and consequently the majority of residents now work either a four-day week or five days of five to six hours (instead of the usual eight).

Speaking about the results, Will Stronge, director of think tank Autonomy who carried out the study, said he hopes other employers around the globe will take note.

[Credit: Anna Dziubinska]

Will said: “It shows that the world’s largest ever trial of a shorter working week in the public sector was by all measures an overwhelming success.

“It shows that the public sector is ripe for being a pioneer of shorter working weeks, and lessons can be learned for other governments.”

Looks like Dolly Parton might need a 9 to 5 remix.

‘Workin’ 9 to 2’ still has a good ring to it!

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