Staying Within Limits: How the 4-Day Workweek Trial Worked in Iceland
Many people overwork, while other work overtime to earn more. Even companies are largely aware of this, as they are the primary benefactors from the set-up of 8 hours a day, 5 to 6 days workweeks. However, have you heard of the latest rumours?
With the piling complaints against gruelling work schedules, some companies have decided to make a change. This comes in the form of a 4-day workweek that has never been heard of before! You might be wondering, wouldn’t it be damaging to the company? Fortunately, robot coworkers now exist thanks to technological developments and through them, efficiency is reached.
The First Try of a 4-Day Workweek
People have been reaping a lot of benefits of technology at work. One good example of this is in Iceland, where workers have been one of the first witnesses to a 4-day workweek.
According to Elliott (2021), 2,500 workers from Iceland were tested from 2015 to 2019. During this trial period, their work hours were lessened from 40 down to 35 to 36 hours. Workplaces also ensured that meetings were cut short, work patterns were adjusted, and shift work was made more endurable.
After this trial, employees were reported to become more efficient and healthy. With lower stress and a happier work-life balance, the workers were able to maintain and even heighten their productivity rates. This trial was pushed by the government of Iceland in order to boost the workforce for the benefit of the future.
Why the Current Work Pattern is Damaging
For many years, people have been used to working 5 to 6 days a week even if it eats up their weekends. Most do it for financial or promotional benefits, but what they fail to realize is that this setup is detrimental to them. Working 40 hours a week actually has a damaging effect on one’s health, social relationships, and productivity.
Working long and hard hours at work is extremely exhausting. But beyond taking a toll on your physical capabilities, it may also lead to several illnesses such as depression, cardiovascular disease, and heart attack.
Risk for Vices and Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Being immersed in a high-stress environment can cause workers to turn to different coping mechanisms. Some of which are unhealthy, such as vices. Because of this, their lifestyle is ultimately altered for the worse. Workout routines are disrupted, fast food is more taken, and social relationships are cut off.
Impaired Cognitive Pattern
Apart from the effects of the damaging work pattern on physical health, it also poses a risk to your cognitive function. According to studies conducted in the American Journal of Epidemiology, workers who worked for 40 to 55 hours a week showed poorer vocabulary and logical aptitude.
Benefits of the 4-Day Workweek for Employees
Having a three-day weekend instead of two sounds so enticing, right? Of course, most employees would agree with this. But to be exact, what are the benefits of a 4-day workweek for employees?
Having more time to oneself helps eradicate stress because it allows for more time for social relationships. In addition, it also allows for workers to be able to recuperate and find recreation through their added free hours.
Added to the fact that workers experience less stress, they are also at less risk of health problems. This means they would be more efficient in their work. It also makes them more engaged in their work because they are able to get enough rest and rejuvenation during their breaks.
Lessened Financial Burden
Finally, one of the most beneficial effects of 4-day workweeks for employees is the lessened expenses. They would be able to spend less on commuting and eating outside, as they could stay at home more. It also allows them to be able to invest their time in other profitable things.
Disadvantages of 4-Day Workweeks for Employees
However, along with the many benefits of 4-day workweeks also come with some disadvantages for the workers.
Usually, parents’ schedules at work coincide with the schedules of their children in school. However, the shift to 4-day workweeks can cause issues with this. For example, your child’s daycare may not be able to accommodate unusual schedules.
Even though shorter worker hours can lead to more relaxation, it can also endanger productivity. This is because people might feel less inclined to attend meetings or work long after being used to shorter work hours. In addition, it can also cause employees to feel pressured when faced with more work.
4-Day Workweeks: Good to Go or Not?
A 4-day workweek is not for everyone. It needs more exploring, but it has great potential to be beneficial for both employees and businesses. Thus, what’s important is determining what your business or the workers need for this transition.
The essential workflow must not be negatively affected and all the organizational needs must be met. Shift work adjustments should be properly coordinated and all changes must be sought for approval before implementation.
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