A year ago, the world was struck by the unimaginable covid-19 pandemic which has drastically changed the way we work. It has laid the foundation for a more flexible form of work, focusing more on productivity rather than office hours. Is it the start of something more? 

The global pandemic has shown that our traditional work models have aged. We’ve made some progress since the industrial revolution. Working hours have decreased and productivity has increased, but there’s still room for massive improvements. Recently, the mass-scale success of remote working has shown that our working practices can be improved with new work models. 

Take Iceland for example. A country that’s been coming up in the headlines repeatedly for trying out a 4-day workweek model. If you’ve been active on social media or new platforms lately, you’ve probably come across the story of how Iceland has increased employee productivity and happiness by shifting to a 4-day-a week work model. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the key takeaways from Iceland’s new work model, and how you can implement this model in your workplace to achieve similar or better results. 

Iceland’s Journey to a Shorter Working Week: 

As of now, 86% of the employees in Iceland are working 4-days a week – 35-36 hours. The government of Iceland ran two large-scale studies between 2015-19. In both studies, the working hours of 2500 employees were reduced from 40 hours/week to 35-36 hours/week, with no reduction in pay.

Here’s what the study found: 

  • Productivity either remained the same or improved across the large majority of the trial workplaces.
  • Employee well-being massively increased. The indicators of this result were the decline in stress level, improved physical and mental health condition, and work-life balance.
  • There were no changes in service processing time in the majority of the trial workplaces.
  • Employee satisfaction was at 90% after the trials.
  • Overall revenue across the organizations didn’t change due to the shorter working hours. 

While the number of employees might sound low for a nationwide study, keep in mind that this is actually 1% of the overall population of Iceland. 

The study wasn’t focused on a single industry. It included different workplaces such as offices, hospitals, schools, and social service providers, indicating that similar results can be achieved in any industry. It also included employees from different shift patterns, such as standard 9-5 workers, non-standard shift workers, and overnight shift workers. So, the model is applicable for any type of shift or rostering pattern.

Yes, there were several critiques of this study. The mighty keyboard warriors are already storming the news platforms writing about its shortcomings. 

But if you look beyond those criticisms, there is something quite fascinating and optimistic about these findings. Iceland’s study and its implementation have shown that a shorter work-week model is possible. If done right, it can deliver life-changing benefits for both the organizations and the employees. 

Implementing the 4-day workweek model in your workplace: 

Iceland’s new work model can be an effective strategy for your workplace if you’re looking to boost employee satisfaction, promote a better work-life balance, and improve productivity. Reducing working hours without sacrificing productivity can be a bit tricky, but it’s achievable through better workflow management. So, how do you leverage this model? The answer is Automation. 

Automation is the key behind this work model. Iceland’s overwhelming results can only be achieved by automating business operations and reducing the workload of your employees. Automation technologies can digitize information and process data in real-time to create more efficient operations. Think about it, the more labor intensive the process, the more time it takes. From manufacturing to management and financial operations, everything can be automated. You can automate your manufacturing operations for faster production, implement software for automated bookkeeping, use CRM systems for faster information processing and management, and so on.

So, no matter which industry you’re in, there’s always scope for automating your business processes. Once you introduce automation to your business, productivity will increase and the employees will engage better and perform faster. So, reducing their working hours and shifting to a 4-day work model won’t negatively impact your business, rather it’ll drive employee satisfaction and boost their morale. 

To implement workflow automation in your organization, you can simply start with the most basic tasks that often end up taking the longest time. Repetitive tasks such as invoicing, customer service, scheduling, and data entry can be easily automated through automation software solutions. Most automation software solutions are surprisingly low cost. So, in addition to being more efficient, you’ll actually be cutting down your business expenses. 

Repetitive tasks are often time-consuming and mundane, which leads to a lot of human error. By automating such tasks, you’ll be achieving more efficient and accurate results. You can also automate the more complex tasks such as generating leads and writing documents. The more you can automate your workflow, the more time you can save from your workweek. 

Automation is by far the best way to leverage Iceland’s results. But remember that automating your business process needs to be supported by proper workforce management. There need to be effective training and development programs to help employees adopt the changes created by automation. Businesses will also need to recruit more technically sound employees, ones that are skilled in managing such automation technologies. 

To sum it up 

Iceland’s new 4-day workweek model is only the start of a growing trend in changing traditional working practices. Businesses will continue to explore new practices and models to improve their operations and benefit their employees. To survive in this competitive environment, you’ll need to explore and trial these new ways of working. Adopting new technologies such as automation will help you to stay ahead of the pack and leverage these positive changes as they come.