Sweden Is Shifting To A 6-Hour Work Day – Why The Rest Of The World Should Consider It Too
Written by: Kat Gal
“Can I buy some time?”
This is one of the signature statements of my husband.
The struggle is real. You have probably felt the same. “If only I had time for this…”
But you don’t, because you’re slaving away for 8 hours at work each day, which easily becomes 10 or more hours when you include finishing up projects over the weekend, out of town business trips and late night messages from your boss or clients.
Then there are errands to do, bills to pay and a household to run. You are lucky if you have time to even brush your teeth, but you are too exhausted to take care of yourself or spend quality time with your loved ones otherwise.
Of course, a healthy whole foods diet will allow you to have more energy to do the things you love and be there for the people you care about. Time management techniques can help you to feel more organized and get more in than a fast food meal, a TV show and quick tooth brushing before falling into bed.
But let’s be honest, if work hours would be shorter, it would help you out enormously.
Sweden May Just Have The Answer
Yep, one of those Northern-European countries did it again. Sweden continues to be on the cutting edge of developing and implementing practices that better our lives.
For instance, Sweden’s approach to garbage and recycling is not only genius, but it is incredibly effective. Only 1% of their waste ends up in landfills. Sweden is also becoming the world’s first fossil-free nation. Now, Sweden is ready to redefine the 40-hour work week too.
They are implementing the 6-hour work day.
The Traditional 40-hour Work Week
The 40-hour work week is something that most of the world became accustomed to over the years. As a society, we’ve grown to accept it. From childhood on, you’ve been taught that this is normal part of adult life. You dread Monday mornings and celebrate when 5pm comes on Fridays. You are even accepting – though not loving – overtime, when 40 hours become 45, 50, 60, or even 70.
But is this really the only way? Do we really have to work 40 hours every week?
Sweden’s New Approach
The Swedish are willing to think outside the box. Several Swedish companies were open to explore the possibility of reduced work hours only to find positive results.
Filimundus, a Stockholm-based app, made the shift last year. They believed that the shorter work day lead to more motivation among employees to accomplish more.
The CEO found that the 8-hour work week is far from as effective as the general population may think. Focusing on a task for 8 hours is very challenging. People also need a life: they want to spend time with their families, exercise and so on. He found that with the shorter hours, employees focused more intensely on their work and still had energy after work hours.
At Filimundus, during the 6-hour work day, employees had to stay off social media. This makes sense. Just think about it – how much time you spend browsing the net at work? You may even be reading this during your work hours.
Besides Filimundus, many other companies are experimenting as well. This includes a retirement home that is trying to figure out whether the cost of hiring 14 extra employees to cover the needed hours would justify the well-being of the employees and the better quality of patient care as result.
What Can We Potentially Gain From 6-hour Work Days?
Here are 3 potential benefits that can come from making the shift to a 6-hour work day (depending on the work ethics of each employee, of course):
- More Focused Workforce: Not only knowing that your job is not taking your life away, but also having time and energy after work hours may make you more inclined to be productive during work hours.
- Improved Social Life: Not only having more time, but also more energy outside of work, you will have better chances to spend time with others and therefore, improve your relationship with them.
- A Healthier Workforce: With the more free time, you will have more time to take care of yourself. There will be more time for you to focus on your own self-care routines, diet, exercise regimen and sleep, which are all crucial health factors.
What Do You Think?
With several Swedish companies that are making or are ready to be implementing this work lifestyle shift, what are your thoughts on a shortened work day? Do you believe it would be beneficial to all? Would it work in the United States? Have you experienced reduced work hours? Share your thoughts and experiences below.
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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