Saturday 3 December 2016

Imagine this: Sweden moves towards a standard 6-hour working day

Sasha Brady

Published 30/09/2015 | 16:12

Sweden moves to standard six-hour work day
Sweden moves to standard six-hour work day

Some businesses across Sweden are moving towards a standard six-hour working day to improve work-life balance.

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The eight-hour workday has been standard practice in business across the world since Henry Ford first experimented with it for factory workers.

In Ireland, the average worker clocks up approximately 8.5 hours per day of a standard 39-hour working week.

But Sweden has challenged this accepted practice in a progressive move that introduces a six-hour work day.

In April 2014, the government of Gothenburg announced that public sector employees would work fewer hours in an experiment to improve work-life balance, boost productivity, and ultimately cut costs. So far, it’s viewed as a success.

Some businesses across the country have followed Gothenberg's move and have already implemented the change, and a retirement home is embarking on a year-long experiment to compare the costs and benefits of a shorter working day.

Lindus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-bassed app developer. Filmundus. explained to Fast Company why his business cut back on their hours:"I think the eight-hour work day is not as effective as one would think. To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge."

He added: "In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the work day more endurable. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work."

Feldt says staff are asked to stay off social media and other distractions while at work and meetings are kept to a minimum.

"My impression now is that it is easier to focus more intensely on the work that needs to be done and you have the stamina to do it and still have energy left when leaving the office."

Feldt said their staff haven't looked back since the company switched to a six-hour dar last year: "We want to spend more time with our families, we want to learn new things or exercise more. I wanted to see if there could be a way to mix these things," he said.

He also explained that staff appear less fatigued and seem to work better together as there are less conflicts and arguments in the office.

Several Toyota service centres in Gothenburg, switched to a six-hour day 13 years ago and report happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and ease in enticing new employees to come on board.

"They have a shorter travel time to work, there is more efficient use of the machines and lower capital costs - everyone is happy," the managing director Martin Banck told David Crouch at The Guardian, adding that profits have risen by 25 per cent.

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