Copenhagen tests out four-day working week with number of applicants doubling

In Denmark, a four-day work week experiment is currently underway at 14 participating workplaces in Copenhagen. The manager of Radisevej dormitory, which provides mental health services, believes that this new schedule is here to stay. Employees will work four one-day shifts followed by three days off, totaling 37 working hours a week, but with longer days than before.

The Danish parliament approved the experiment on flexible working weeks in 2023, proposed by the Alternativet party Christian Jakobsen. The trial began on April 1 in workplaces across Copenhagen and will run until the end of the year. After the trial, workplaces will evaluate whether to permanently adopt the four-day work week.

This is not the first experiment of its kind in Denmark. Previous trials have been conducted in municipalities like Esbjerg, Vejen, and Odsherred. Labor market researcher Janne Gleerup mentioned that similar experiments have been conducted in the business world for some time now, but this change is also being embraced by public sector workplaces.

Among the participating workplaces in Copenhagen is Radisevej dormitory, where employees had to reorganize their shift schedules but have overall welcomed the change. Jonas Ammitzbøll, director of Radisevej’s unit, has already noticed positive effects on recruitment and hopes for a better balance between work and free time.

Similar experiments are also taking place in other countries such as Finland’s central trade union organization SAK’s proposal for an experiment with shortened working hours. Reports from a British experiment on a four-day work week showed improvements in physical and psychological health for participants leading to reduced stress levels and other benefits.

Overall, transitioning to a four-day workweek is an ongoing experiment with potential benefits for both employees and employers aligning with societal changes towards greater flexibility and work-life balance.

By Riley Johnson

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