The world now has another reason to be envious of Sweden natives. An official work day in Sweden will now be six hours!
Last month a study was published in The Lancet that showed the health risks of working lots of hours in a week. The study looked at 600,000 individuals. Some of them worked 55 hours a week while others had a 35-40 hour work week. Compared to those who worked fewer hours, the participants who worked more hours were 33% more likely to have a stroke, had lower mental health (particularly in women) and were 13% more likely to develop coronary heart disease!
Many businesses around Sweden have already implemented the change while others are testing out the benefits for themselves.
As of February, a retirement home in Gothenburg has been trying out the 6-hour work day. It is a temporary change that will allow the owners to analyze the costs and benefits that the change would bring. Their nurses will have no change to their wages, but the shorter hour’s means that the company had to hire on additional employees. They will be keeping this up until the end of 2016 when they will reassess their findings.
Linus Feldt is the CEO Filimundus. Filimundus is an app developer based right inside of Stockholm. Last year the company made the switch to the 6 hour work day. Feldt did an interview with Adele Peters from Fast Company to talk about what a 6 hour work day means to them. He said:
“I think the 8-hour work day is not as effective as one would think. To stay focused on a specific work task for 8 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. 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.”
The assumption is that people will be more task-focused when working shorter days. Feldt says that employees are asked to refrain from going on social media or allowing themselves to be distracted. He said:
“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.”
While the productivity of the company didn’t improve, it didn’t fall either and the morale of the staff certainly was on the up. They were happier and more motivated and interactions between co-workers were less confrontational!
Filimundus change was inspired by Toyota. A handful of Toyota service centers in the Gothenburg area have had 6 hour work days for 13 years and counting! The company has a lower turnover rate for employees, happier staff and hiring on new people is never an issue since the shorter days is enticing to potential workers.
It seems like a 6 hour work day is a win/win for both companies and their employees! However, I think it may take a while for other countries to jump on board. So until then, we should all move to Sweden.