The Nordic country's youngest Prime Minister suggested the change in order to help all citizens live a healthy lifestyle.
Do you ever catch yourself thinking about how much happier you would be if you didn't have to stay at work for, well, practically your whole life? If you often find yourself disillusioned by the working class struggle, it's probably time to pack your bags and head to Finland. In what would be a landmark move, the Nordic country is considering a four-day workweek in addition to implementing shorter working hours on a national scale, The Guardian reports. The move is the work of the country's newly-elected Prime Minister, 34-year-old Sanna Marin. Evidence has shown that shorter working hours are linked to increased productivity and reduced emissions, but critics are still unsure. Oh, boo!
According to the Prime Minister - the youngest ever in the world's history - the flexible work schedule is the "next step" in making a contemporary, healthy lifestyle accessible to all citizens. At the 120th anniversary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Turku, Prime Minister Marin called for a test run of the six-hour, four-day workweek. "Is eight hours really the ultimate truth?" She asked. "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... A four-day workweek, a six-hour workday. Why couldn't it be the next step?"
Unlike other countries, such as Japan for instance, Finland and its Scandinavian neighbors have long been experimenting with more socially-focused approaches to work. In 2015, Sweden implemented a six-hour workday. The move has been associated with happier employees along with overall higher job satisfaction as well as a boost in national productivity. While Sweden is a live example of how effective a flexible work policy is, studies have proven the benefits of such an approach in the past. As per a revealing study conducted by Henley Business School in 2019, 77 percent of workers said a four-day week improved their quality of life. The researchers thus affirmed, "Our research shows there are clear benefits [of a four-day workweek]: we found that those organizations already offering it are seeing improvements in employee satisfaction, increased staff productivity, and a reduction in sickness absence."
But perhaps critics, like Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, are not misplaced in their critique of such a schedule. In Gothenberg, the six-hour workday was scrapped due to increased costs. Business owners may struggle with staffing challenges while employees might, at first, fear appearing lazy to their bosses if they choose to work less. Nonetheless, these are surface-level concerns that can be addressed with institutional change. At Kellog's, the company's six-hour workday was only discontinued as management wished to have working environment policies parallel to those of other companies, though the policy worked successfully for many years. All it takes is someone to make a structural change at the very top. The rest will follow suit. Should Finland choose to adopt flexible working policies at a national level, the country would set a precedent for other countries to fall in line too.