Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, 34, has announced plans to introduce a four day week. Sounds pretty glorious, doesn't it? However, critics of reduced working hours, such as conservative MP Daniel Hannan, I think the idea is crazy. He believes we could all work four-day weeks, but we don't want to.
He is right? The evidence says no.
Reducing work week length increases productivity. When, in August, Microsoft Japan tested a four-day week, productivity work increased by about 40 percent. A Melbourne organization found that a six-hour business day required employees to eliminate unproductiveand activities like sending useless emails, attending long meetings, and cyberloafing. UK companies that have successfully moved to a four-day week include Elektra Lighting, Think Productive and Portcullis Legals.
A TUC survey found 45% of employees want a four day week. According to one study by Henley Business School, 77% of workers said a four-day week improved their quality of life. When the city of Gothenberg, Sweden, introduced a six-hour day for some nurses, the nurses became healthier, happier and more energetic.
Reducing work hours is also good for the natural environment. According to some analyzes, a shorter work week can also lead to a significant cut in our carbon footprint as employees produce less carbon while working, use less resources at work and have more time to cook and shop. instead of relying on takeaway food delivered in plastic containers.
Although a shorter work week has many benefits, it is not a magic bullet. The Wellcome Trust went back on its plans for a four-day week, saying it would be "very complex operationally." Gothenberg abandoned his six-hour experiment a day because of cost increase. Bosses fear that a shorter workweek will create staffing challenges and make customer service difficult, while employees fear that working less will make them look lazy. These challenges are not insurmountable. In fact, short working days are nothing new. Since the industrial revolution, the number of hours worked has been falling. When working hours in Britain were reduced from about 54 hours a week to 48 hours a week in 1919, there were no effect on productivity and competitiveness. Kellogg's, a US grain manufacturer, successfully operated a six-hour policy for many years in the mid-twentieth century. It was only ruled out because management wanted the company to have working practices like other companies. It is perfectly possible to be happier, more productive and greener at work. It may sound too good to be true, but it may be the norm in a few years.
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