Study: Shorter workweek leads to increased happiness, no loss in productivity

D. Wennes, clinical director at Associated Psychological Services, types on his computer...
D. Wennes, clinical director at Associated Psychological Services, types on his computer Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Mankato, Minn.(KEYC Photo/Jared Dean)
Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 5:23 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — A recent study reported that Iceland is moving toward a shorter workweek, with trials that took place from 2015 to 2019.

The trials involved moving the usual 40-hour workweek to a 35 or 36-hour workweek. Overall, the trials showed that employees were less stressed.

With everything workers have gone through over the last year, some of those looking to get into the workforce are trying to find part-time jobs rather than full-time employment and companies are hiring.

“That company has been wonderfully open to allowing literally for that person to pick their schedule,” said Shaila Moody, general manager of Express Employment Professionals. “They say we open at this time and we close at this time, as long as you can get 20 hours per week, and that has been greatly beneficial.”

The typical American workweek is Monday through Friday, eight hours per day for a total of 40 hours per week. Some psychologists believe that this is too much, and it can get in the way of personal growth.

“American society is very work, work, work. And it is almost like this unhealthy expectation that the harder you work, the better you are. And that is detrimental, it is OK to have balance,” explained D. Wennes, clinical director at Associated Psychological Services.

Isolation and working from home in 2020 has allowed some workplaces to include hybrid work, where people can work from home some days and in the office for others.

Mogwai Collaborative Director Stephanie Braun has seen both sides of the post-pandemic workplace.

“Being in an office, working five to six days a week, eight hours at the minimum, if not 12, I do not think it is a sustainable way of living your life,” Braun said.

Some employees and workplaces have shown that productivity is not lost with fewer hours or adjusted schedules during the workweek.

For those still going to work 40 hours per week, it is recommended to take time for yourself.

“Take some time during your work week to take care of just you,” Wennes said. “When you take the time to do that you are more productive, more productive in your workweek, you are in a better mood, less depression, less anxiety, the whole nine yards.”

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