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Iceland has been testing a new way for people to work. They are testing people working four days a week. Normally, people would work five days a week, like in many other countries. They are testing this because they are thinking of new ways for people to work. The five-day workweek has been around for over 100 years. Most of the world has been using the five-day workweek since the 1920s. In recent years, other ways of working have been talked about. The four-day workweek is one of the alternatives.

The trial in Iceland has been a big success. The trial included about 1% of workers in Iceland. They tested the four-day workweek between 2015 and 2019. Workers said they felt less stress with the four-day workweek. They also said they were healthier and had a better work/life balance. It has been good for employers too. The test found that how much work people did during the four-day workweek went up or stayed the same. So, employers didn’t lose any working time. 

The success of the trial in Iceland means 86% of workers in the country can now work four days a week. Other countries have been doing their own tests of the four-day workweek too. Spain has started their own four-day workweek trial because of COVID-19. In New Zealand, the company Unilever has also let workers cut their hours by 20% without lowering their pay. Countries and businesses might be more open to changing the way people work in the future.

Difficult words

Alternative (n): A difference choice.

Trial (n/v): A test to see if it’s good or bad.

Success (n): For something to go well, or how you want it to.

Include (v): To be part of something, in it.

Balance (n/v): Being equal on each side.

Employer (n): A person who gives a job to another person.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

American English Audio: Coming Soon!

Match the Synonym!

 1. Alternative A. Test
 2. Trial B. Be part of.
 3. Success C. Boss
 4. Include D. Going well.
 5. Employer  E. Choice

True or False?

1. Ireland is testing a four-day workweek. T / F

2. The four day work week was not a success. T / F

3. The five day work week has been used for about 100 years. T / F

4. The trial included 1% of workers in Iceland. T / F

5. Spain is testing a six-day workweek. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. to work / testing / new way / has been / for / Iceland / a / people

2. days / work / five / people / week / a / Normally, / would

3. workers / of / The / trial / about 1% / included

4. good / employers / for / It / too / been / has

5. have / doing / Other / countries / their / tests / own / been

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English Audio: Coming Soon!

WorkingTestingBusinesses
FourBetweenTalked

Iceland has been testing a new way for people to work. They are (1)__________ people working four days a week. Normally, people would work five days a week, like in many other countries. They are testing this because they are thinking of new ways for people to work. The five-day workweek has been around for over 100 years. Most of the world has been using the five-day workweek since the 1920s. In recent years, other ways of working have been (2)__________ about. The four-day workweek is one of the alternatives.

The trial in Iceland has been a big success. The trial included about 1% of workers in Iceland. They tested the four-day workweek (3)____________ 2015 and 2019. Workers said they felt less stress with the four-day workweek. They also said they were healthier and had a better work/life balance. It has been good for employers too. The test found that how much work people did during the four-day workweek went up or stayed the same. So, employers didn’t lose any (4)___________ time. 

The success of the trial in Iceland means 86% of workers in the country can now work four days a week. Other countries have been doing their own tests of the four-day workweek too. Spain has started their own (5)________-day workweek trial because of COVID-19. In New Zealand, the company Unilever has also let workers cut their hours by 20% without lowering their pay. Countries and (6)_____________ might be more open to changing the way people work in the future.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. What is work culture like in your country?
5. Would you prefer to work longer days but only four days per week?
6. Do you think many countries will follow Iceland?
7. Has your work life improved since COVID-19 started?
8. Do you prefer working from home or working in an office?
9. What other ways can your work life be improved?
10. Do you feel valued by your employer?
11. Do workers in your country have strong protections from the government?
12. Should workers get to choose their working hours more freely?
13. Why do you think the five day work week has been around for so long?
14. Are companies in your country resistant to change?
15. Should employees be paid for the time they work or for what they produce?
16. How would more time away from work help your life?
17. What do you think working life will be like for workers in 50 years?
18. Has your country run any trials like the one in Iceland?
19. Do government workers get better benefits than private sector workers in your country?
20. What would your dream working life be?