New Finnish PM talks about 4-day weeks

Finland’s transport minister, Sanna Marin, has become the country’s newest prime minister. In addition to being (at 34) one of the youngest world leaders, she’s also been talking about experimenting with a 4-day week.

In August 2019, at a Social Democratic Party conference, “Marin identified a considerably shorter work week as one of the objectives the party should incorporate into its agenda and pursue in the future.”

“A four-day work week, a six-hour workday. Why couldn’t it be the next step? Is eight hours really the ultimate truth? 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,” she stated.

She added at the beginning of her response that she hopes the proposal becomes a reality in the near future.

Last month, her ministry announced that it was looking at how to move to a 4-day, 24-hour workweek, according to Computer Weekly:

The ministry of transport and communications, which is behind the plan, believes intelligent use of digital and AI technologies could be the catalyst to enable the labour market to move from a five-day, 40-hour working week to a four-day, 24-hour week….

“If we look at how digitisation and AI are changing our lives, changing how products are made and sold and how society functions, then we should have a strong degree of confidence that, taken together, technological advances and productivity improvements have the potential to make shorter workdays a possibility in the future,” said Sanna Marin, Finland’s transport and communications minister….

“New technologies, and the greater use of technologies to manufacture goods and services, have been the main driver in reducing working time over the past 100 years,” said the minister. “In each decade, technology has contributed to increasing labour productivity. Some may argue that it sounds utopian and unfeasible to make a living on four-day working weeks or six-hour working days. That said, the same fears were expressed about the transition to a five-day working week and an eight-hour working day in the past.”

Connecting the shorter working week to automation– and figuring out how to wire industrial and labor policy so that the first becomes a consequence of the second– is a great idea, and an important step forward in our thinking about technology, work, and the future.

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