Tuesday 27 August 2019 4:48 am

DEBATE: Should we learn from the ‘Scandinavia summer’ model and take the month of August off?

Mathias Mikkelsen is chief executive of productivity startup Memory.
and Annabel Denham
Annabel Denham is director of communications at the Institute of Economic Affairs

Should we learn from the ‘Scandinavia summer’ model and take the month of August off?

Mathias Mikkelsen, chief executive of productivity startup Memory, says YES.

For anyone visiting Oslo at this time of year, they might find it strangely quiet. Despite the sunshine bringing our maritime city to life, the streets are empty.

The reason? The Scandinavian summer holiday: a mass exodus of employees for a month-long break.

This break might seem indulgent to the rest of the working world. But it’s actually good for business; the perfect example of hours worked not equating to productivity.

According to Gallup, 63 per cent of employees experience professional “burnout”. A month of holiday helps prevent this, boosting engagement and encouraging staff to develop and explore new ideas. The fact that this is normally done next to a fjord while drinking akvavit is a happy bonus.

When our team come back in September, they are fully prepared for the end-of-year sprint. Though Oslo may be quiet at this time of year, be prepared for lots of professional noise from Scandinavian companies in October, November, and December.

Annabel Denham, communications director at The Entrepreneurs Network, says NO.

It is absurd to think that we should adopt fellesferie – as the Norwegians call their indulgent summer break. One study has suggested that the French equivalent cuts the country’s industrial production by a third.

Britain is already fretting about empty supermarket shelves post a no-deal Brexit; until 2015 France mandated that some boulangeries must open in August to ensure that people would have bread.

The idea that summer is for play, not work, has origins in old manufacturing sectors where everyone downing tools at once seemed logical. Not so in 2019 – especially given that many markets don’t slow down in the summer.

And what of individualism? Already workers in the Netherlands are calling for more flexible leave policies – not everyone wants to go on holiday at a time when prices are highest. It’s why the number of fines issued to parents in England for taking children on holiday in term-time has doubled in recent years.

I’m sorry to be more humbug than hygge, but a mass workplace exodus in a globalised economy? C’est fou.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.