Six-hour workday for the workforce in Sweden

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Businesses across the country are aiming to get more done in a shorter amount of time so that people have the energy to enjoy their private lives.

As a usual practice, most employees across nations, industries and organisations, work at least 50–55 hours a week and yet businesses continuously think of ways to obtain more productivity from their human resources. Studies have suggested that longer work hours have a negative impact on employee health and efficiency. According to a study involving 600,000 people in Australia, those who clock up a 55-hour week have a 33 per cent greater risk of suffering a stroke than those who maintain a 35- to 40-hour week.

Keeping these concerns in mind, Sweden decided to move towards a standard six-hour workday, with businesses across the country implementing the change. The intention is to get more done in a shorter amount of time and in the process ensure that people have the energy to enjoy their private lives.

A retirement home in Gothenburg that made the six-hour switch earlier this year is conducting an experiment, until the end of 2016, to determine whether the cost of hiring new staff members, to cover the hours, lost is worth the improvements made in terms of patient care and boosting of employees’ morale.

Toyota centres in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, made the switch 13 years ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits. Filimundus, an app developer based in the capital, Stockholm, also introduced the six-hour day last year. Even doctors and nurses in some hospitals in the country have embraced the shorter workday.

There’s no denying that staying focussed on a specific task for eight hours is a huge challenge. In fact, people find ways to endure the long day at work by taking short and frequent breaks, leaving them with less time and energy to manage their private lives beyond work hours.

With a shorter workday, employers in Sweden are now seeing to it that the staff members are not allowed on social media, meetings are kept to a minimum and other distractions during the day are also eliminated. The objective is to keep the employees motivated to work more intensely while in the office so that they can enjoy more of private time post work. The new workday will ensure that people have enough vigour and stamina to pursue their personal lives and interests when they leave work — something which can be difficult with eight-hour workdays.

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