News from Sweden: Sweden proves six-hour work day is better for employees' health and productivity

23:46 Jul. 26, 2016

Sweden proves six-hour work day is better for employees' health and productivity

Stockholm, Sweden (GettyImages Photo)

Work-life balance becomes commonplace for Swedish companies

A six-hour working day with no pay cut is already a reality in Sweden. The country has constantly been a leader in providing more social benefits for its citizens. Reducing working hours is proved to make people happier, who can enjoy their personal lives and spend more time with their families.

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In that regard, Sweden has one of the lowest overtime work rates around the globe, totalling only 1.1% of employees working long hours (50 and more hours). Work-life balance in Sweden shows a shift towards spending more time for leisure and personal care - 15.2 hours a day, according to the OECD statistical data of 2015. That shift goes even further - cutting eight-hour working days to have more time for personal life.

The experiment at the Svartedalens caregiving home in Gothenburg on switching to a six-hour work time demonstrates good results so far. It is funded by the Swedish government. The experiment shows employees haven't lost their productivity, on the contrary, the number of sick leaves has reduced and people have become happier, higher performing and dedicated to their families.

Bengt Lorensson, a lead consultant contracted by Gothenburg City Council to analyze the data on the nursery home experiment, says productivity of workers has improved resulting in better patient care.

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"It is too early to draw any firm conclusions, but nurses working shorter hours are taking less sick leave and report being less stressed", Bengt Lorensson commented on the issue for BBC news.

The Svartedalens experiment is designed to provide proves on the efficiency of a six-hour shift. They were inspired by the Toyota vehicle service centers, that moved to a six-hour day 13 years ago to address employee stress, lower turnover rate, and increase company profits.

Another example of a six-hour move is Filimundus, the Swedish gaming company. They are sure such an initiative is effective, having adopted the idea a year ago. Linus Feldt, the company's CEO, told FastCompany magazine that less time at a workplace allows him to focus more on tasks having more stamina to perform them.

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"I think the eight-hour workday is not as effective as one would think", Linus Feldt says. "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 workday 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".

The Svartedalens experiment, which was launched in February 2015, is due to take place until the end of 2016. Final conclusions on how the initiative can change lives of Swedish people will be drawn later. The experiment may be expanded to other cities around the country, if it proves to be a success.

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