Icelanders Work Longer Hours Than Other Nordic People - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelanders Work Longer Hours Than Other Nordic People

Published May 18, 2016

Photos by
BenAveling/Wikimedia Commons

Icelanders work as many or more hours per week than other Nordic people, but shortening fulltime hours at some workplaces has already proved very promising.

RÚV reports that a steering committee for the City of Reykjavík that has been researching the effects of shortening the fulltime work week for city employees has submitted some of their findings. One of these findings was just how many hours per week the average Icelander works.

According to the research, Icelanders work an average of 39.7 hours per week. By comparison, Danes work 38.3 hours; Norwegians, 38.8 hours; and Swedes, also 39.7 hours. Moreover, recent research has also shown that immigrants in Iceland work even more than Icelanders.

However, as reported, shortening the fulltime work week has proven very effective at some city workplaces.

At the end of a year-long experiment that reduced the full-time hours for employees at some municipal workplaces, productivity continued at the same level, despite the work week being five or four hours shorter. At the same time, costs remained the same as well.

On top of this, employees reported greater work satisfaction, fewer sick days, and a greater level of well-being in general.

As reported last year, the idea of a shorter work week had been gathering considerable support, prompting Reykjavík City Hall to conduct this experiment.

Research shows that longer working hours reduce both productivity and work satisfaction. This assertion is backed up by OECD data, which shows that Icelanders work seven more hours per week than the Dutch; six more hours per week than the Norwegians, Danes and Germans; and five more hours per week than the French. Furthermore, Iceland has lower productivity than Denmark, Spain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Norway – all of which have shorter work weeks.

In October 2014, the Pirate Party submitted a bill which proposed shortening the full-time work week from 40 hours to 35. The bill was met with strong opposition from representatives of management, but Reykjavík’s latest results – and new parliamentary elections – may usher in a change of policy.

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