Iceland has succeeded in the 4-day work week, is it far from us?

Work for 4 days, take 3 days off, and have small holidays every week?

Recently, this kind of work system has been successfully practiced in Iceland .

One of the happiest countries in the world, has just announced the largest ever public sector survey on "reducing the working hours per week" .

▲ Picture from: Reuters/Scanpix

In 4 years, the Reykjavík City Council and government departments in Iceland have observed 2,500 workers and asked them to try out the 4-day work week. The final conclusion is:

Working 4 days a week and taking 3 days off is of great benefit to "hitting workers."

This result has aroused the support of many people and believes that it should be promoted in various countries.

Of course, the reality is not that simple.

▲ Picture from: Unplash

What is the good thing about the 4-day work week in Iceland?

Let's go back to the beginning of this research.

The survey started in 2015 and lasted until 2019. The 2500 employees involved accounted for 1% of the total working population in Iceland, covering more than 100 types of workplaces such as hospitals, offices, kindergartens, and social service agencies.

During this period, these people have maintained the same working standard: only work four days a week, and the salary remains the same .

(Note: These employees usually worked 40 hours a week before, but only about 35 hours in the experiment)

▲ Picture from: Unplash

The result is optimistic.

In most workplaces, their work efficiency has not declined, but productivity has remained the same or even improved.

The most significant improvement is that the happiness of employees has been greatly improved .

According to the feedback from the employees in the report, the benefits they feel are mainly as follows :

  • Can better balance work and life
  • Reduced stress and burnout mentality
  • More exercise, healthier body
  • There is more room to develop self-interest
  • Have flexible time to handle personal affairs
  • Can better accompany family and children

▲ Picture from: Unplash

Of course, after asking to achieve such a result, many difficult changes have been tried behind the work.

The biggest adjustment is to change the working mode.

The work units of these employees have almost optimized the overall work process and explored how to complete work tasks in a more effective way.

For example, the company and employees have begun to reconsider the necessity of meetings, and try to shorten the meeting time and reduce the number of meetings.

For example, out of concerns about productivity, employees have detailed plans for their daily work to ensure that they have the same level of output in less time.

Therefore, although their working hours are only four days, their work pace has also accelerated a lot.

▲ Picture from: Unplash

Employees have reduced entertainment activities and rest time during working hours, can focus on the work itself, and do their best to complete their work tasks.

The holidays allowed them to rest and relax.

They not only adjusted their personal living space and improved their quality of life, but also developed their own hobbies and hobbies.

After the holidays, they returned to work and were able to work more actively.

It is not without any problems.

Some employees said that after reducing their working hours, their work communication with others may not be timely, because not everyone only works for four days, and the docking is not so convenient.

However, the benefits mentioned above obviously overshadow the difficulty of these challenges.

▲ Picture from: Unplash

According to the researcher, the trial was an "overwhelming success" and was a "milestone pilot", showing that it is possible for modern times to make incremental changes to working hours and "providing a precedent for other countries . "

Now, Iceland has begun to implement a four-day work system throughout the country .

Controversy over the length of a week's work

There is no shortage of supporters for the Icelandic survey results.

Some netizens said straightforwardly:

And asked:

But the joke is a joke. Most people complain about working hours, and it is difficult to do it in the current situation of working five days a week .

Not long ago, the topic of the big factory's cancellation of the large and small work system was on the hot search.

Big and small weeks are a characteristic "rest method" in the Internet industry, which refers to "working 5 days a week, 6 days a week, alternately".

Many Internet companies are popular on weekends in this form of vacation.

On June 24, Kuaishou finally cancelled the big and small week system, allowing employees to work overtime as needed.

Prior to this, Bytedance also conducted an internal investigation, but the results were not black and white.

Among them, 1/3 of the employees support cancellation of large and small weeks, but 1/3 do not support cancellation.

An employee of ByteDance said that he would lose 100,000 yuan in income every year if he canceled the big and small weeks.

Each is justified.

However, the atmosphere of large factories that rely on working hours to compete can easily "infect" the industry, and its so-called "correctness" will be infinitely magnified in the industry .

Regarding this hot discussion about working hours in Iceland, most of them are also about the intangible "volumes" that extend to the workplace and life:

There are also many opponents.

Especially when everyone is enthusiastic about the hope that this model can be copied to China, netizens said that Iceland is a developed country with a small population, abundant resources, and high GPD per capita. Many countries are still developing and need more catch-up and efforts. To live a better life.

But objectively speaking, what people dislike is not the work itself, but a culture of overwork, the destruction of rules, and the excessive encroachment of personal lives .

They create excessive anxiety, collision, and burden, making the workplace a transmitter of extreme stress.

What the "workers" need is reasonable working hours and personal rights.

How many days are the best working days in a week?

Of course, the best answer is obviously—

Not working.

Looking at the future, it is not impossible.

However, in the current situation, it is impossible not to work without working.

You know, our current five-day work system has been very hard-won.

In addition to the rolling wheels of the industrial revolution in the 18th century, capital-intensive enterprises have grown tremendously, and the working hours of laborers have been continuously squeezed, even working 12-16 hours a day. Some capitalists also show off :

We can make a young man's hair gray, and we can also make a child laborer lose his innocence.

It was not until the working class rose up to fight and united closely to strike, march, and demonstrate with their lives. In early 1888, the United States began to implement the 8-hour work system.

In 1920, the world began to implement the 40-hour standard working hour system every week, and my country began to implement weekends on May 1, 1995.

At that time, there were no regulations on working hours in China, and working hours were extremely chaotic. The appearance of weekends was like a "Fantasy Night" to people at that time. Some people said :

Chinese people have never been so happy.

Until now, organizations around the world have begun to review the structure of the work week .

Iceland has made a representative attempt, but Iceland is not the first country to implement a three-week holiday.

In 2008, Utah took the lead in implementing a one-year "4-day work week" experiment in the United States to save energy costs in the state.

In fact, in 2018, we also recommended in the "Leisure Green Paper: China's Leisure Development Report 2017~2018" that by 2030, we should implement a four-day work system.

Up to now, some companies and institutions in the UK, Japan, New Zealand, Germany, and Spain have begun to experiment with the "4-day work week . "

Japan is one of the countries with the longest working hours in the world. Nearly a quarter of Japanese employees work more than 80 hours of unpaid overtime per month.

▲ Picture from: UNILAD

Therefore, in August 2019, Microsoft Japan conducted a "four-day work week" experiment, and the results were also very optimistic. This month, Microsoft Japan's sales increased by nearly 40%, and they continued to implement the system the following year.

But the "four-day work week" is not all satisfactory.

The Swedish state-run nursing home previously conducted an experiment of working 6 hours a day, and found that they had to hire more people to fill productivity gaps, and staff costs had also risen sharply .

Of course, no work system is perfect. It is worth mentioning that the Australian company Versa has also made an interesting adjustment.

They also work four days a week, but turn their rest days into Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, which is equivalent to a mini holiday every two days of work.

This is an innovative work week method. Since its implementation, the company's revenue has increased by 46% compared to last year, and its profit has tripled.

However, the founder, Kath Blackham, did not directly attribute the reason to the three-day rest a week . He believes that the company's profitability should be attributed to the excellent work of the employees.

And the reason behind the excellent work, Kath Blackham said:

We respect our employees' flexibility in dealing with life and work.

In fact, people discuss reducing working hours, but also not to avoid work.

They just don't want the working hours to be uncontrollable, leaving only work and sleep every day; they don't want the value of work to be determined by the length of work, which will eventually become a machine of labor.

Family, hobbies, and private life outside of work are obviously more difficult to create economic value.

But these parts that make everyone more fulfilling, allow people to stand in a more open place, know the way to measure their self-worth, and should become more complete.

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