Four-Day Work Week in Tatarstan And Greater Russia

Kazan, capital of Tatarstan, will be one of the first Russian cities to experiment with a four-day work week. (Wikimedia Commons)

Kazan, capital of Tatarstan, will be one of the first Russian cities to experiment with a four-day work week. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Russian Ministry of Labor is testing whether a shorter work week improves productivity. Instead of immediately implementing four-day work weeks across the republic, the Russian government decided to test whether the change proves successful by using a sampling of companies across the region. The new policy will first be applied in Tatarstan. 

Tatarstan, a Russian republic, is located at the confluence of the Volga and Kama rivers. Its capital, Kazan, is around 800 km east of Moscow. Forty-four companies have opted to join the experiment as of September 23. Vice Minister of Economic Development Pyotr Zaselsky advocated for the change, claiming that workers do not accomplish anything 30 to 40 percent of the time anyway. Furthermore, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev explained that technological advancement may help increase productivity while decreasing working hours.

Cutting the work week down to four days is aimed at increasing overall productivity by a target 5 percent by 2024. However, the experiment is not perfect. The amount of hours workers are expected to work during the shorter weeks remains ambiguous. Hours per week will either decrease or workers will need to work four ten-hour days each week. 

Not everyone approves of this change. The head of the Tatarstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry has opposed the policy, calling a four-day week “rubbish.” Tatarstan companies largely do not support the policy, reacting with “great anxiety.” The Tatarstan government has largely remained neutral amid these concerns.

Nevertheless, the implementation of a four-day work week has been successful in other places. Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand company, changed its employees’ work week from five to four days in 2018 without changing workers’ salaries. The company reported that the impact of the change was wholly positive, with productivity increasing during a shorter period, perhaps because employees reported that they were happier due to improved work-life balance. 

“I applaud this instance of working smarter and encourage more businesses to take it up,” Ilain Lees-Galloway, New Zealand’s workplace relations minister, said.

Whether Russia took inspiration from Perpetual Guardian is unknown, but the country is hoping to see similar benefits from this innovative decision.