Why not a 4-day work week?

Many of us are slogging through our five-day, 40-hour work week after the holidays. Meanwhile, Finland caught a lot of attention when its prime minister, Sanna Marin, floated the idea of a four-day, six hours per day work week. 

Finland isn’t officially launching a four-day work week, but companies elsewhere have tried it, including Microsoft in Japan last year (and in November, the company reported 40% increase in productivity). 

And in America during the Great Depression until the 1980s, Kellogg's adopted a 30-hour week, and workers’ productivity and satisfaction increased. That’s according to Ben Hunnicut, professor of history and leisure studies at the University of Iowa and author of “Kellogg's Six-Hour Day (Labor And Social Change)” and “Free Time: The Forgotten American Dream.”

Hunnicut believes that working hours will continue shortening, especially as millennials (and the generation after them) are much more interested in experiences rather than material wealth or consumerism. 

“People are less and less inclined -- the millennial generation -- to believe that work will be the answer to all my existential questions. … The millennial generation [is] looking more and more to life outside of the marketplace, outside of work for those questions that my generation (the baby boomers) have certainly looked to work to answer. So work itself is undergoing some reappraisal,” says Hunnicut. 



  • Benjamin Hunnicut - University of Iowa; author of “Free Time: The Forgotten American Dream"