This Country Has the Shortest Workweek — Here's How It Compares to the U.S.

The U.S. isn't the worst, but it's also far from the best.

You've heard it before, and until it changes, you'll likely hear it again: Americans are workaholics. Many of us take work to the next level, pushing beyond the standard eight-hour work day and even tacking on the occasional weekend just to get the job done. We check our email from bed and clock in on vacation. One study found that a whopping 48% of Americans consider themselves workaholics.

These days, with work-life balance being top of mind, some U.S. companies are toying with the idea of a four-day workweek and it has some wondering what a shorter workweek could really look like.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental economic organization of 38 member countries, including nations like the U.S., Greece, New Zealand, and Sweden, did some digging on the average number of hours people work in a typical week around the world. And while the latest numbers available are from 2020, the data paints a picture of what a standard workweek might look like in countries from Italy to Iceland.

Cozy small street with terraces and restaurants in the center of the historic city of Maastricht.
Jan Van Der Wolf/Getty Images

According to the OECD, the country with the shortest working week is the Netherlands, with a reported 29.5 weekly working hours. Broken down by day, that translates to a four-day workweek with just 7.37-hour days. Denmark follows with 32.5 working hours a week, and then Norway, with 33.6. Switzerland averages 34.6 hours and is followed by Austria, Belgium, and Italy, which all clock in at 35.5 hours a week.

Surprisingly, the U.S. falls in the middle of the pack, with 38.7 average usual weekly hours, slightly below the 40-hour standard. The OECD country with the longest workweek is Colombia, with an average of 47.6 working hours each week, followed by Turkey at 45.6 and Mexico at 44.7 average weekly hours.

The OECD data is based on the average usual weekly hours employees spent at their main job. The 2020 data for some OECD countries, like Canada, South Korea, Germany, and Australia, was inconclusive.

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