Swedes' Trial With 6-Hour Workday Getting Thumbs-Up

There are expenses involved, but workers seem happier, more productive
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2015 3:40 PM CDT
Swedes' Trial With 6-Hour Workday Getting Thumbs-Up

Full-time workers in the US spend an average of 47 hours a week punched in for a paycheck, according to Gallup data cited by Quartz, keeping pace with the current trend to work harder and longer. But a retirement home in Sweden has been reaping positive results from an experiment in the opposite: a six-hour workday in which nurses receive full-time pay for their shorter shifts, the Guardian reports. And by anecdotal accounts pouring in since the workers at the Svartedalens home in Gothenburg switched from their eight-hour shifts in February, employees are enjoying a better quality of life, which ups their well-being and allows them to take better care of their elderly patients, their families, and themselves. "I used to be exhausted all the time," one nurse tells the paper. "I would come home from work and pass out on the sofa. But ... now I am much more alert: I have much more energy for my work, and also for family life."

Other employers in Sweden are testing this abridged workday out as well, including a Toyota repair shop in Gothenburg, which says it's seen less turnover, as well as greater productivity and profits since instituting the six-hour day 13 years ago. "Staff feel better … and it is easier to recruit new people," the managing director tells the Guardian. "They have a shorter travel time to work, there is more efficient use of the machines, and lower capital costs—everyone is happy." Well, not everyone: Conservatives claim the extra expense to hire additional workers to cover the shift gaps is untenable—"It's like living in a world where it is raining money from the sky," one conservative pol tells the paper—but those who see the benefits overall say it's worth it. And a business administration researcher tells the Guardian we may even be able to extrapolate this to the next level: the four-hour workday, which was advocated nearly 90 years ago by philosopher Bertrand Russell, Quartz notes. (More Sweden stories.)

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