As workers across the globe haul themselves back to the office for their first full week after the extended Christmas break, Finland’s newly-installed prime minister has sought to soften the blow for her citizens with the prospect of a condensed working week.
Sanna Marin, 34, has proposed putting the entire country on a four-day workweek consisting of six-hour workdays in a bid to transition the country to what she called “the next step for us in working life.”
“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,” Marin said.
Specific details of Marin’s proposal are yet to be announced.
Finland has long been an advocate of flexible work schedules. In 1996, the government introduced a law that gave employees the right to shift their hours up to three hours earlier or later than their employers’ typical requirements.
Since taking office and becoming the world’s youngest prime minister in December, Marin has advanced that agenda. Marin sits at the helm of Finland’s Social Democratic Party and leads the country’s five-party, all-woman center-left coalition government.
The country is far from alone in its stance, however. In 2015, neighboring Sweden tested out the six-hour workweek in Gothenburg, finding it a boon to happiness levels but a burden on public coffers. France, meanwhile, reduced its standard working week to 35 hours from 39 hours in 2000.
The notion of a reduced workweek has support from the corporate world, too. In November 2019, Microsoft Japan revealed that a trial four-day workweek had boosted productivity by 40%. In 2018, a New Zealand firm dubbed its two-month trial of a four-day workweek a success in improving work-life balance.