Sweden is shifting to a six hour work day. Should we?
Office hours have been creeping up in recent years. This is perhaps in response to the lingering effects of 2008’s economic crisis, as businesses are under ever-increasing pressure to record profits in a tough market. Many organisations have responded by increasing office working hours in order to increase the amount of work done in a week.
Sweden, however, has done quite the opposite and has decided to move towards a standard six-hour day. Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus, told Adele Peters at Fast Company; "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. 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."
"But how do they manage to get all their work done?" you might well ask. It's simple – they stay off social media and limit all other distractions, keeping meetings short as another way to reduce time wasting. They also believe that cutting the working day will enable staff to be more motivated and energised to get things done in a shorter space of time.
This ties in with what self-styled productivity expert Chris Bailey has identified.
He believes that the ideal working week is 35 hours long, achieving the optimum balance between work, rest and play. Research indicates that working more than 35 hours a week can have damagingeffects in the long term. Although there is an initial spike in employee productivity which comes with longer working hours, data shows that about four weeks after the extended hours commence things begin to take a turn for the worse. Longer working hours are only sustainable for a short period of time before the overworked employees become stressed and fatigued as workloads catch up with them.
As an employer or business manager, it’s in your best interests to have a healthy, happy and productive workforce. Would you like to see these reduced hours taking effect in the UK? Do you think you would be more productive and happier with reduced working hours?