Finland is considering a shorter week to improve happiness and productivity
You may have seen the recent news that Finland is considering a shorter working week to improve the work-life balance of employees while boosting efficiency and mental wellbeing. According to Guardian, the 34-year old Finland’s new prime minister, Sanna Marin, floated the idea of a four-day week and six hour workdays for companies across the country. The aim is to provide the Finnish workers with a flexible working week and allow them more time with their families. It sounds quite glorious, doesn’t it?
However, critics of reduced working hours, such as the Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, think the idea is bonkers. He believes we could all work four-day weeks, but we just don’t want to. With regards to the UK, it is possible that an outdated approach to working hours is holding the country back from unlocking the productivity benefits that come with shorter working weeks.
When Microsoft recently tested the shorter week in Japan productivity work shot up by about 40%, while the implementation of a six-hour working week saw unproductive activities eliminated in an organisation in Melbourne, Australia.
However, despite all the hype around four-day work weeks, UK office workers are currently closer to a six-day working week – without seeing increased productivity as a result. New research from Citrix this week revealed that:
• Over half (55%) of UK office workers are closer to working a six-day week than a four-day week, when they consider the hours they work
• Employees are sceptical about the likeliness of a four-day working week – with 58% feeling it isn’t likely in their current place of employment
• The majority of workers (65%) believe a national four-day working week is unachievable because it requires a cultural shift in how we approach and define ‘work’, with a further 58% believing our ‘outdated approach’ is holding the UK back from its potential productivity
• UK office workers predict we won’t see the four-day week until 2025 – though more than one in five (22%) believe it could take up to ten years to take effect
• When asked what could help to reduce extra time currently worked, the responses were clear: more realistic targets or workload (29%) plus a pressing requirement to upgrade technology – with improved processes (24%), better technology to boost efficiencies (23%) and cloud-based technology to provide access to documents and files when travelling or ‘hot-desking’ (23%) cited as the next most popular solutions
Commenting on the Finland’s idea, Citrix VP and CTO, Christian Reilly said:“Economies are built and grown through outputs and outcomes, not cultures of ‘presenteeism’ and hours worked – and it seems we still have a way to go before we reach a fully tech-enabled, outcomes-led approach to work. The irony is that the technology and infrastructure to enable flexible working is more sophisticated than it has ever been, and could dramatically help ease the burden of working hours for British employees.
Reilly added: “There is a clear opportunity for technology to underpin improved and more efficient ways of working. Depending on the sector, this could range from more productive work within fewer hours in the workplace to enabling individuals to work flexibly with access to intuitive, user-friendly systems that boost – rather than hamper – productivity. Organisations in the UK must adopt both the right working culture and the right technology to encourage productivity and reduce the requirement for extra hours worked, while delivering the same quality and quantity of outputs.”
You can read more details on the research here.