Perhaps everyone who has worked 8-hour workday have dreamed of going home earlier. This could be possible if the working day gets shortened to 6 hours.
It’s exactly as you’ve imagined – people will be more productive and more happy if they do not have to work 8 hours a day. At least this is what the 2-year long experimental research in an elderly home in Gothenburg, Sweden shows. Employees are healthier, feeling more rested and less stressed. In addition, employees have taken less sick days. 6-hour workday is said to develop quality of life and productivity in the workplace as staff have more energy. This is also because it gives a better balance between working and private life.
Despite the experiment has been a success, Gothenburg’s municipality has no intentions to switch to 6 hours working day or continue the experiments. The reason is, needless to say, money. Since employees work 6 hours while receiving salary for 8 hours, which combined with the fact that new workers have to be employed to fill those 2 missing hours, the financial costs for employers get much higher. The Swedish experiment has costed Gothenburg nearly SEK 10 million (≈ EUR 1 million).
On the other hand, when employees are healthier and more productive on a 6-hour workday, in certain types of jobs could be produced as much as on an 8-hour working day. What is more, increased involvement of technologies on the working place can replace extra staff that otherwise would need to be hired. But even if companies need to employ more workers, this has its positive side – more jobs and more people receiving income, with which income they can buy more and stimulate the economy. The difficulty however in switching to a 6-hour working day remains the transition period which would require large investments by companies and the state.
Despite the difficulties of such a major switch for the whole economy, the 6 and even 4-hour working days seems to be on their ways. Companies in many developed countries already allow part-time work, working from home or flexible working hours. As Daniel Bernmar from the Left Party in Sweden points, “It is a long-term solution for a sustainable working life and it improves quality of life in general. Switching to a 6-hour working day is an important investment in the future”.
Article: Lina Stamenova