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What we can learn from Iceland about the 4 day work week

Iceland has been a pioneer among other countries in work-life balance. At the onset of COVID-19 they had already started this trial of having a shorter work week with the same pay. They have found extreme success in implementing the 4 day work week where many have not. Proven benefits include higher productivity levels, less burnout, and more time for leisure activities.

Time magazine interviewed four participants of the study and found that these steps are the key in successfully adjusting to a four day work week:

Set expectations

Prior to beginning the process of a shorter work week there should be a conversation between the employer and employees. What is needed from both parties to ensure that this is successful? What hours are best for operations? What day and time works best for everyone for meetings? More than that, both the employer and employees need to be flexible with each other. There should be a willingness to work together to ensure that things are still accomplished to the same quality. If there needs to be a change in arrangements, they should be made accordingly.

It’s also important to recognize that every individual is different. Some people may prefer to work the full 5 day work week as that is what works best for them productivity wise, and that is fine as long as you do what works best for you and your organization.

Start small

Don’t be drastic! Change takes time. In this case, moving to a 4 day work week is best in increments when people have time to adjust. You can start with removing an hour or so from your schedule a couple days per week and go from there. In many cases, organizations have needed to add back hours because people’s work flow had not adjusted yet to a shorter work week.


Throughout the process remember to communicate with all parties involved. Whether that be about adding hours back or having differing feelings about the process part way in - communicate that!

The business world learned how to be more flexible through the pandemic and it's time that this is reflected in future business practices. Think about whether a 4 day work week works for you and your organization and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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