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Sweden’s 6 Hour Day

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Something I’ve taken an interest to in the recent months are the studies that are currently being conducted in Sweden. Some companies have significantly reduced their working hours in an attempt to increase productivity throughout their workforce. The working hours have been changed to a 6 hour working day in order to allow employees to leave at 15:30 to give them time to focus more on their own personal life. This got me thinking about the possible success of this strategy in the UK.

First of all, let’s be honest and admit that we would all like to get paid the same amount of money for less work, but could this realistically happen? If productivity increased or stayed the same then there is a genuine argument for keeping salaries the same. However if companies experienced a loss of revenue then it’s quite likely the working hours would be held responsible resulting in potential salary cuts. Toyota factories in Sweden made the change 13 years ago and reported happier staff, lower turnover and increased profits.

Secondly, it’s important to think about how we could be more productive in less time. Things like social media checking, coffee breaks, cigarette breaks, extended bathroom breaks and general chit chat could be reduced as workers would know that the end of the day isn’t ever far away. Focusing on something would become easier as you wouldn’t always have one eye on the clock. However, is it naïve of me to think that people would be able to adapt their work pace which they have been used to throughout their working career? Also, would 4 o’clock syndrome just become … 2 o’clock syndrome??

For me it comes down to the different sectors. Some sectors will put much more emphasis on customer satisfaction and client care, where happier and more rested employees might result in better productivity. However some sectors look to drive as much of a profit as possible through volume of output. Could this output still be achieved in less time? Unlikely.

Overall this experiment is very much in its infancy and has only yielded very specific results, it would take a lot more research and time to determine if this will work across different sectors and even more a whole country. The test results seem positive so far and I’m intrigued to find out more.
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