Finland's Prime Minister has sparked enthusiasm in her country by announcing plans to introduce a four-day week and a reduction of the workday to six hours.

Sanna Marin, the 34-year-old social democrat in charge of a coalition of five parties, wants much shorter working hours so that people can spend more time with their families.

"A four-day workweek, a six-hour workday. Why couldn't it be the next step?" she proposed in a speech.

"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."

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While the idea might seem far-fetched in countries accustomed to the standard nine-to-five, Northern European nations have challenged the status quo for some time.

The Swedish tech industry has been running a six-hour workday for some time, and corporate giants like Toyota have followed suit.

As far back as 2003, Toyota shifted its Gothenburg plant to shorter working days, boosting productivity.

Microsoft similarly saw productivity increase by 40 per cent when it tested a four-day week within its Japanese operation.

However, not everyone is a fan of the concept of shorter work hours. Tory member of the European Parliament Daniel Hannan criticised the four-day week in an op-ed written for the Telegraph last year. He called the four-day week "unaffordable, impossible [and] imaginary", saying that we simply couldn't sustain our current way of life with shorter work hours. His argument is that we don't currently have a shorter work week because people see value in working longer hours to live a bit better.

Closer to home, Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes made international headlines in 2018 when introducing the four-day week at his organisation, which employs over 200 people.

Barnes has since travelled around the world to talk about the impact the four-day has had on his business.

Barnes has spoken extensively about why the four-day week isn't only good for families but also for the environment and the issue of congestion.

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Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes is a major proponent of the four-day week. Photo / File
Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes is a major proponent of the four-day week. Photo / File

Barnes also recently published a book, which will become available in February.

The hype generated by Perpetual Guardian's effort in this space, last year saw the company and its PR firm Alexander PR pick up a tally of seven global awards.

At the prestigious Sabre Awards presented in Washington DC in October last year, the four-day week was announced as the eighth best PR campaign in the world for the year.