Sweden Shifting to Six Hour Workday
5 October 2015 at 11:30 am
In 2009 the Australia Institute found that people were working more hours than ever before, with then Director, Dr Clive Hamilton, saying that Australians worked the most hours in the developed world.
Now there are National Employment Standards that dictate the maximum number of hours a full time employee is legally allowed to work – 38 hours.
But in Sweden bosses are leading the charge towards a 30 hour work week, saying it makes workers more productive and businesses more efficient.
Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus, told Fast Company that the eight-hour workday was not as effective people thought.
"To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge. In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the workday more endurable,” Feldt said.
“At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work. 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."
Filimundus switched to a six-hour day last year, and Feldt said that the change had not made a major difference to how people work.
The leadership team asked people to stay off social media, avoid personal distractions while eliminating some standard weekly meetings.
"My impression now is that it is easier to focus more intensely on the work that needs to be done and you have the stamina to do it and still have energy left when leaving the office," Feldt said.
While the idea is radical in Australia, in Sweden Filimundus could be accused of being slow off the mark.
Toyota centres in Sweden’s second largest city made the switch to a six-hour work day 13 years ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits in that time.
While the changes are not yet enshrined in law, according to the Swedish government, the average Swede works 1,644 hours per year, 132 hours less than the OECD average, yet Sweden still ranks sixth on the Global Competitiveness Index.