Instagram | @sannamarin

Finland's New Leader Plans To Bring In Six-Hour Days And Four-Day Work Weeks

Ryan Ford 6 Jan 2020

Sanna Marin, the new Prime Minister of Finland, made waves simply by taking over the role at the age of 34. Marin heads a coalition government, of which the leaders of the five parties included are all women, and she's the youngest female head of government in the world.

Now, among her first acts in the leader's chair, she's proposing more flexible conditions for workers, particularly six-hour work days and a four-day work week.

Instagram | @sannamarin

"I believe people deserve to spend more time with their families, loved ones, hobbies, and other aspects of life, such as culture," she said, according to New Europe. "This could be the next step for us in working life."

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Shortened work days and work weeks aren't without precedent.

Unsplash | Dominik Lange

Finland's neighbor, Sweden, experimented with six-hour work days back in 2015 when the government tried a two-year pilot program with a group of nurses at a retirement home. The workers involved in the experiment all reported feeling healthier and less stressed, and patient care improved.

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However, the idea of six-hour days was ultimately abandoned because cost increases were deemed to be too high after a further 17 workers had to be hired to cover shifts.

Reddit | kans11

Payroll increased about 22%, Business Insider reported, although that was offset by about 10% due to lower unemployment costs.

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Other experiments with shortened work days have shown more promising results.

Unsplash | Andre Benz

Microsoft Japan introduced a four-day work week in the month of August in 2019, with some startling results.

Productivity actually went up an astounding 40%, The Guardian reported.

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And the company saw other savings as well.

Reddit | FNaXQ

This included 59% fewer pages printed and a 23% decrease in electricity use. No surprise, the workers were as happy with the arrangement as management was, with 92% saying they liked the shorter weeks.

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New Zealand's Perpetual Guardian, a trust management company with 240 staff members, tried a four-day week for two months, and it was a hit.

As Reuters reported, workers were tasked with doing their regular 37.5 hours of work in just 30 hours a week, but at the same pay, and they rose to the occasion.

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Productivity, profits, and revenues all rose, as did staff retention, and sick day use and stress levels fell.

Reddit | Shappie

Meetings got shorter, employees spent less time surfing the internet, and the company attracted higher quality recruits.

The four-day weeks at Perpetual Guardian became permanent, at least on an opt-in basis for workers, 80% of whom did indeed opt for the shorter weeks. However, four-day weeks are mandatory for senior managers.

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So, there are definitely some good arguments in favor of Marin's proposal.

Instagram | @sannamarin

Workers in Finland already have some flexibility that those in other nations might be envious of — in 1996, the Working Hours Pact established that most workers have the right to adjust their hours up to three hours earlier or later than their typical hours.

h/t: New Europe, The Guardian, Reuters

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