Sweden tests out a 6-hour workday: sign us up!

But wait … it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Ivo De Bruijn | Stocksy United

Workers in the caring profession in Sweden have just finished a two-year trial in which they were paid their normal full-time salary to work just six hours a daywhen’s the next flight to Sweden you may ask?! But in a sector that has difficulties in finding new recruits, the experiment aimed to examine the level of well-being among 70 staff and their overall productivity. Some of the test participants were nurses from a retirement home and early feedback shows that during the trial they “logged less sick leave, reported better perceived health and boosted their productivity by organizing 85 percent more activities for their patients, from nature walks to sing-a-longs.” And assistant nurse, Emilie Telander, noted, “During the trial all the staff had more energy. I could see that everybody was happy.” She added that returning to eight hour days will prove very tiring and difficult for her work-life balance, with less time to be with her four-year-old daughter.

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On paper the reduced hours system seems great, it benefits both employees and those being cared for—there’s nothing better than thinking of our elderly loved ones getting quality care. Yet, despite the project showing real benefits in productivity, and boosting unemployment to make up the staffing levels, there were financial costs—$1.3 million for the supplementary staff and administration of the test—met by the taxpayer. For now it’s a project that cannot be maintained financially or rolled out on a national level, but as Daniel Bernmar, head of elderly care in Gothenburg says, it clearly shows the importance of “fueling global debates about work culture.” And we never know, once the experiment’s results are studied in more detail there could be a shift in priorities for greater quality work and happier staff, and maybe we’ll get to see a gradual implementation in the six-hour day over Europe, that may one day spread to the U.S.

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But for now let’s dream a little … If we found ourselves working just six-hour days (dads included!), here’s a list of just the obvious extra things we could do that would benefit those around us:

1. Spend time with our older relatives

2. Volunteer at a homeless shelter

3. Help organize events at church or in our local community

4. Adopt a healthier lifestyle: cook homemade meals, go to the gym, read a good book

5. Have family meals that last more than 15 minutes

6. De-clutter our homes and recycle our unwanted items and give to charities

7. Assist at our kids’ school

8. Visit the sick in hospital

9. Allow our kids to do more crafts at home as we’ll have the time to clear the mess!

10. Spend more time outdoors and breathe …

If you had an extra two hours a day, what would you do? Let us know what you’d do in the comments below!

 

Cerith Gardiner
Cerith Gardiner
Cerith Gardiner was born in London and has been living in Paris for 14 years. She spends her time working as an English consultant, acting as taxi driver to her four children, and wondering if she'll ever be as stylish as the French.

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