If there’s one thing everyone in the world is aware of, it’s that we work too much.
Finland has been at the forefront of flexible work schedules for years, starting with a 1996 law that gives most employees the right to adjust their hours up to three hours earlier or later than what their employer typically requires.
In neighbouring Sweden, where the six-hour-day working day was trialed in 2015, results showed that employees were happier, wealthier and more productive.
Finland’s newly installed political leader, Sanna Marin, just upped the ante, though, proposing to put the entire country on a four-day workweek consisting of six-hour workdays.
Marin, the world’s youngest sitting prime minister and the leader of a five-party center-left coalition, said the policy would allow people to spend more time with their families and that this could be “the next step” in working life.
Sanna Marin, the youngest female world leader, intends to trial the reduction in working hours, on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Turku. She says it would allow those in employment to spend more time with their families and loved ones. Currently, people in Finland work on average eight hours a day, five days a week.
Marin said: ‘I believe people deserve to spend more time with their families, loved ones, hobbies and other aspects of life, such as culture. ‘This could be the next step for us in working life.’
“I want to build a society in which every child can become anything and in which every human being can live and grow old with dignity.”
While shorter work weeks can bring clear benefits to employees’ well-being, they also can be difficult to implement. The Wellcome Trust, a science research foundation in London, dropped plans for a four-day workweek last year, saying it would be “too operationally complex to implement” for its staff of 800.
However, it seems that it can work on a larger scale.
In November Microsoft Japan took a bold move in a bid to improve work-life balance by introducing a three-day weekend for their employees. The results showed that productivity went up by a staggering 39.9 per cent.
Now, most of us would be keen on this idea, wouldn’t you?