Iceland’s doing it. So is Kickstarter. Is this the year your company gives it a try?

WORKPLACE
WORKPLACE.  ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS GASH

[FORTUNE US=MARCO QUIROZ-GUTIERREZ]

THE CONCEPT has been kicking around for a while: Ask workers to put in four hard-core workdays and lengthen the weekend. But it never gained much traction in the U.S. until COVID turned the work world upside down. Suddenly there are signs that the four-day workweek may be on the precipice of a mainstream moment. In June, the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter announced a pilot four-day workweek starting in 2022. The effort is part of a larger set of programs called 4 Day Week U.S., a spinoff of 4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit that advocates for shortened weeks.
Kickstarter, which will keep salaries unchanged, is betting that the move will improve employee productivity and job satisfaction. In a statement, Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan called the experiment part of an effort to “build a future that is flexible.”
The four-day workweek will apply to all 90 of the company’s employees, regardless of location or whether they work remotely or in offices. The goal is for all employees to work 32-hour weeks, a spokesperson said.
Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart started 4 Day Week Global after Perpetual Guardian, an estate planning services company in New Zealand that Barnes founded, implemented a shortened workweek with great success. The organization acts as a “guide” for interested companies, providing research and webinars to help each design its own shortened workweek.
Programs vary by organization and could include four eight-hour days or five shorter days of work. While a handful of companies such as Unilever and Shake Shack have experimented with fourday workweeks, shortened work schedules have largely not been implemented by big companies.
One exception is Microsoft Japan, which experienced lower electricity costs and a 40% increase in productivity after it tested a four-day workweek in 2019.
Earlier this year, the Spanish government agreed to pilot a fourday workweek program for a limited number of interested companies. The country allocated about $60 million dollars toward the project.
No place has more experience with the four-day workweek than Iceland, where a majority of workers now have contracts that shortened their hours, according to a report published
in June by Icelandic think tank Alda. Two trials involving 1% of Iceland’s working population found that employees with reduced hours saw an increase in well-being and a decrease in burnout, while productivity increased or stayed the same. It sounds like the kind of data that might help persuade your boss.


[FORTUNE US=MARCO QUIROZ-GUTIERREZ]

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