Finland’s new prime minister, 34-year-old Sanna Marin, once floated the idea of a four-day week. It sounds quite glorious, doesn’t it?
Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamáček fueled the debate after he posted on his Facebook his thoughts about a four-day workweek.
“A four-day workweek. I understand that when we start talking about changes, we don’t always take them seriously. On the other hand, people once believed that shortening the workweek from six to five days was not possible. And it happened,” posted Hamáček on Facebook two weeks ago.
“Can you imagine today at your job, that if you do your weekly tasks in four days that the weekend will then start on Thursday afternoon? What would you do on Friday?”
His post was based on the Microsoft experiment in Japan. When, in August, Microsoft Japan tested a four-day week, productivity work shot up by about 40%. One Melbourne organisation found a six-hour working day forced employees to eliminate unproductive activities such as sending pointless emails, sitting in lengthy meetings and cyberloafing (messing around on the internet).
However, Hamáček’s colleagues are not so keen on the idea.
Former Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek admits that in the distant future, there might be a four-day workweek, saying there has already been a switch from a six-day to five-day workweek in the 1960s, however, he stressed that any changes have to be in line with the performance of the economy.
Kalousek concluded that for at least the next ten years, Czechs will have to stick with their current working hours.
Despite some trends pointing to a four-day workweek in the future, current Czech Finance Minister Alena Schillerová also warned against such an idea, as she considers it short-sighted.
“If we do not want to jeopardize the prosperity and competitiveness of our economy, the labor market must remain the driving force behind these trends,” said Schillerová, although admitting that trends might change.
“It is possible that with the increase in labor productivity, the workloads will gradually be reduced or flexibility will be increased. This trend has already been observed in many companies, so it is certainly not a utopia,” she added.
A survey by the TUC found 45% of employees want a four-day week. According to a study by Henley Business School, 77% of workers said a four-day week improved their quality of life. When the city of Gothenberg in Sweden introduced a six-hour day for some nurses, the nurses became healthier, happier and more energetic.
The introduction of the four-day workweek is also a long-term topic of Czech trade unions, which appreciate Hamáček’s support in this matter.