Måske kunne de fleste af os klare det hele på den halve tid?

Vi bliver åbenbart ikke mindre produktive af at arbejde én dag mindre om ugen. Det tyder et islandsk studie i hvert fald på.

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Most of us could accomplish twice as much in half the time if we worked less.

Apparently, productivity is not affected if we work one day less per week.  This is what new studies out of Iceland suggest.

There is prestige in working, and there is prestige in working long days and many hours. In many work environments, you get points from colleagues and friends when you say you are super busy, work long working days and in general express yourself as a person who takes his work so seriously that you are willing to go on compromise on personal and family priorities.

Everything is, of course, relative. I have heard of employers in Denmark who drive their employees unheard of hard with an expectation that is not up to date at all or is in line with the employee’s desire for work pressure.

There is a difference in the two scenarios. It is about who it is that expects the working hours you put into your work.

Either way, there is now something to suggest that it is actually not that cool to work long days and many hours. Two new studies from Iceland show that a four-day work week not only improves one’s well-being, but also one’s productivity measured on various parameters. About 1 pct. of Iceland’s workforce participated in the experiment and overall there was no reduction in their productivity.  

What is the benefit for employers in a four-day work week? Employees thrive better because the balance between work and private life becomes easier to handle, employees’ performance improves, and last but not least, according to the report, it is good for the environment, e.g. because fewer polluters on the way to and from work.

I must admit that I am surprised that the result also seems to apply to the Nordic countries. Few countries have such good working conditions with so many holidays and days off.

Here in the United States, we have a 40-hour work week and the right to two weeks of vacation a year. In many white-collar workplaces (office workplaces) it is taken for granted that you put in more than 40 hours. Depending on the industry, you may be lucky enough to negotiate for more holidays – but never near anything that resembles Danish standards. If you are in a trade union and there are very few of them, the country may be different.  

To give an example from my own little duck farm, which very well illustrates what it is like for most people in our area, I can report that my dear husband, who reportedly works in an industry that is extremely generous with the holiday weeks, namely in the field of IT, after 20 years in the labor market, has been negotiated for four weeks with his American employer. He is happy and satisfied with the four weeks he has now worked his way up to. It would be absolutely unheard of with such a holiday luxury 10-15 years ago. A lot has happened over here, but maybe not enough if you look at things through Danish spectacle lenses.

It is difficult for me to see that you can work much less than you do in Denmark, and still make the wheels turn and the welfare society work. But I might be wrong.

Here in the USA, people like to use every opportunity to work from home and thus create a shorter working week, so that they both avoid hours of transport and can have a little extra time for children, spouse and themselves. There are many ways to make things work if you feel worn out.

Maybe there is a long way from an Icelandic studio to the reality out in the workplace? Maybe you can ask questions in a certain way to get the answers you want?

Or maybe I should, the next time I hear someone say that they are so terribly busy and work +50 hours a week, put their heads down a bit and look compassionately at them – because maybe most of us could handle it all in half time?

(Google translate)

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