In a recent interview with the Finnish newspaper Kauppalehti, Huawei’s Finnish cybersecurity chief Mika Lauhde suggested that a seven-day workweek should be introduced in Finland to catch up with China and the United States. The proposal has raised eyebrows and caused much discussion on social media, as experts are skeptical of the idea of working every single day of the week.
Reporting on reactions to the statement, Finnish media YLE writes that Professor Annina Ropponen at the Institute of Occupational Health believes that Mika Lauhde is deliberately provoking, while Juha Ojala, Head of Counseling at the Service Union PAM, calls the proposal “completely crazy.”
In recent years, there has been a trend for countries and major companies to discuss shorter working hours. According to Mika Lauhde, however, we should go in a completely different direction. According to him, Huawei’s employees in Silicon Valley and Shenzhen regularly work 80 hours per week with minimal vacations in order to catch up with the US and China’s productivity, and Finland ought to follow suit.
“I always work 80-hour weeks and I have not had a summer vacation in four years,” Mika Lauhde said in his acclaimed interview.
Annina Ropponen told YLE that she first thought Mika Lauhde’s proposal was a joke and that a seven-day workweek would not work in Finland.
“I think it is simply impossible, how would we handle our everyday life? In some Asian countries, it may work, but it depends on the work culture. Some workers work a long way from home, travel to work once a year, work for several months, and then return home for a few weeks holiday,” she says.
According to Annina Ropponen, Europe attaches more importance to leisure and rest than other parts of the world. She also points out that, unlike in China, no workers are willing to work that much on the assembly line in Finland and in large parts of Europe.
“If you do not want to work 80 hours a week, then someone else will,” she says, referring to the rock-hard competition in the country.
Juha Ojala calls Mika Lauhde’s proposal “completely crazy,” arguing that free time and holidays don’t negatively affect productivity. Juha Ojala says that in a small country like Finland, it is almost impossible to compete with countries with larger populations when it comes to workload. According to him, Finland’s strength lies in other areas.
“We do not compete with quantity, but with knowledge,” he says.
Although Juha Ojala is very critical of the idea of a seven-day workweek, he thinks that it could start an important discussion about how much time we want to spend on the job.
“But it is also a bit dangerous if someone takes it seriously, given that too much work is dangerous to health,” he says.