Sweden first hit the headlines in 2015 after a number of firms announced that the country was changing to 6-hour workdays – particularly start up companies. Since then, more and more companies have adopted or trialled the reduced working hours.
However it is not a revolutionary new concept there. A Toyota service centre in Gothenburg cut down their mechanics’ hours almost over a decade ago and reported that staff were happier and the company saw a huge increase in profit. By law, Swedes are granted 25 holiday days and parents get 480 day paid parental leave to split between them.
The shorter working hours mean that by 5pm most Swedish offices are empty and people have time to go home and enjoy the last few hours of sunshine, whether it be through exercise or by being with their kids or catching up with friends or family. There have, however, been mixed reports, whereas many believe it is wonderful to now be able to finish work and take an hour hike in their local forest or do some gardening whilst the sun is still out. There are some people who believe that the addition of extra free hours actually doesn’t reduce stress levels because there is then the factor of organizing more activities and events to fill that time.
One of the bigger initiatives in West Sweden took place at an elderly care home in February 2015. Eighty nurses switched to a six-hour working day as part of a two year controlled trial, whereas 80 nurses maintained the eight-hour working day in a similar care home. The trial is still underway but there have been reports that there have been fewer sick leaves, staff stress levels are lower and patient care has improved alongside the organization of more patient activities.
According to a medical study posted in ‘The Lancet’, long working hours have been linked to coronary heart disease and stroke.
Personally, I think that being given six-hour work days is a good initiative especially for people office workers.
If you have a shorter amount of time to work, you will try and get as much work done as possible and that’s good for business. After a long day, my mind wonders and I procrastinate. Whereas, if I have a tighter schedule but it means I get to squeeze in more time outside to enjoy the sunshine then I’m more likely to concentrate the mind.
Many studies have proven that we need to take time out in the day for ourselves in order to unwind and de-stress. Lower stress levels lead to better sleep and a healthier happier human being. Aren’t people always saying ‘the world’s your oyster’ and all that jazz, well it’s quite hard to pull off if you are working roughly 1,715 hours a year. We’re all in this world to live so why not have more time to live it?