The dream of many a modern employee, talk of a four day workweek has made headlines around the world this month after 34-year-old Finnish PM Sanna Marin proposed her vision of “the next step for us in working life,” which includes six-hour workdays and a four-day workweek in the Scandinavian country.
Might the same concept be headed to the Czech Republic? It seems unlikely in a country that boasts one of the European Union’s longest workweeks, in terms of the average number of hours covered by employees.
But the idea of a four-day workweek has a key proponent in Czech politics: Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, who has proposed the idea in the past and didn’t pass up the opportunity to bring it up again.
“A four-day workweek. I understand that when we start talking about changes, we don’t always take them seriously,” Hamáček posted to Facebook.
“On the other hand, people once believed that shortening the workweek from six to five days was not possible. And it happened!”
“Can you imagine today at your job, that if you do your weekly tasks in 4 days, the weekend will start on Thursday afternoon? What would you do on Friday?” he asks.
Hamáček referenced a trial operation at Microsoft during which the four-day workweek resulted in a 40% increase in productivity.
“A four-day workweek is a reality,” he said.
Still, the idea hasn’t yet taken hold among his colleagues. But for some, at least, the idea isn’t entirely off the table.
“There will certainly be a time when we move to a four-day workweek, as when we switched from a six-day to a five-day workweek in the 1960s,” ex-Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told Blesk.
“But it must be in line with the performance of the economy, its structure and competitiveness. In the next 10 years, I consider it to be impossible.”
The Czech Republic’s current Finance Minister, however, advises caution.
“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,” Alena Schillerová, who is also the Czech Republic’s Deputy Prime Minister, told Blesk. But she, too, admits a change in trends.
“It is possible that with the increase in labor productivity, the workloads will gradually be reduced or flexibility increased. This trend has already been observed in many companies, so it is certainly not a utopia.”
Whether or not the initiative comes from the state, most acknowledge that advances in technology are leading toward fewer working hours in the average position – and that even now, four-day workweeks are being implemented in some companies.
In the country with the lowest unemployment rate in Europe, and one of the most competitive job markets, the concept of a four-day workweek could be additional incentive when attracting new talent.