While working hours are on the rise for many in Australia and the US, a number of companies and agencies in Sweden are going in the opposite direction.
According to recent media reports, companies which have adopted a 6 hour working day are finding that reduced working hours has no adverse effect on output, with increased productivity offsetting the reduction in working time.
Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus CEO Linus Feldt told Fast Company they switched to a 6-hour day last year and hadn't looked back.
"We want to spend more time with our families, we want to learn new things or exercise more. I wanted to see if there could be a way to mix these things," he said.
Meanwhile, Gothenburg retirement home Svartedalens is conducting a year-long experiment to evaluate if the cost of hiring 14 new workers to cover the lost hours involved in the 6 hour day is worth the improvements to patient care and employee morale.
Over the course of two centuries working people have fought for the reduction of the working day, from the 14-16 hour days often worked during the early stages of the industrial revolution to the 8 hour day (or less) that is now the norm in most advanced economies.
And for good reason. Recent findings by medical researchers into the effect of longer working hours confirm what those who work these hours know all too well.
A study published in The Lancet in September this year analysed data from 25 studies monitoring the health of more than 600,000 people in Australia, the US and Europe for up to 8.5 years. It found that people who worked 55 hours a week had a 33 percent greater risk of having a stroke than people who worked a 35 to 40 hour week.
It also discovered a 13 per cent increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.
It’s time that Australian companies started looking at the Swedish experiments rather than trying to squeeze more and more working time out of employees.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald; various reports.