Is the Six-Hour Workday the Key to Productivity?

Some towns in Sweden decided to switch to a six-hour workday for their public employees. The results have been great. People are happier. Patients at a nursing home are getting much better care. Everyone has enough time for family and hobbies, and I can only imagine burnout will be a thing of a past. We should all adopt it!

Except for one big problem–these are public-sector employees. This means their employers don’t have to be concerned about, well, you know, money. Sure, they do have budget limits, but it’s not like the private sector, where you have to at least break even and preferably make a profit.

For example, a care home that switched to six-hour days for nurses found that the nurses loved it and the patients loved nurses who weren’t stressed out. But the home had to hire 14 extra employees. In the private sector, you can’t just up your budget and get the city council to allot it. You actually have to increase your income.

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9 thoughts on “Is the Six-Hour Workday the Key to Productivity?

  1. Although the particulars are not stated. In your article, the mere act of hiring 14 additional people per X already employed people, would instantly alleviate lots of stress in companies the world over. 🙂

  2. Until about the mid-19th century, working hours were far longer than the typical 8-hour day. Back then, the 8-hour day became a goal for progressives and the labor movement, as the 12-hour and 10-hour days had been before it. Now, the 8-hour day apparently is too long for many people, and we want a 6-hour day. That might be nice, but I wonder if it would just become a new set point in people’s minds, and eventually 6 would become the new 8, and then we’d all be wishing for a 4 hour work day. I’d be happy just to be allowed to work my 40 hours in 4 days instead of 5.

    1. But the trend seems to be having exempt employees do longer and longer hours, well over 40 a week. I would happily take 6 hour days (and likely be just as productive as 8 hour days) for 75% of the pay!

  3. You didn’t mention if their pay remains the same. I don’t think it would sting as much if private companies pay less money for less hours worked, there might even be less benefit payout as less hours worked make certain employees ineligible for some benefits. Then the choice must fall to the employee. Would you opt for less hours or better benefits and that opens up a whole new debate.

  4. If you can hire four people to work 6 hour shifts you’d pay the same as if you hired three to do 8 hour shifts, theoretically. In the US you’d also have to add a fourth medical insurance bill to the first three and would come out at a serious loss. In Sweden the theory might actually work.

  5. I don’t think anybody from HR likes that idea. That useless people do not want to became useless so easily.

  6. My local municipal office for a town of 10 thousand people doesn’t operate on Fridays. For we taxpayers who try to get things done around our working hours, the absence of one working day is sometimes a problem.

  7. A six-hour work day is like music to the ears. But only at first glance. When you factor in the cost of hiring additional employees or the fact that there is no correlation between less working hours and productivity, then I agree with your statement that there’s nothing magical about a six-hour day.

    Khris Villoria

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