The thing about Sweden's 6 hour working day is...

Words by hubbul

Companies all across Sweden have decided to slash the traditional working day by two hours. It’s out with the traditional 8 hour slog, and in with the leaner, more efficient, extra productive 6 hour working day, where a business and any of it’s employees - whether permanent and temporary -win. 

The theory behind it seems to make sense too. Workers will pack more into a 6 hour day than they would in an 8 hour day - because the traditional 9-5 (allowing for the obligatory 1 hour lunch break) doesn’t maximise productivity. No surprises there then.

"I think the 8-hour work day is not as effective as one would think,” explained Linus Feldt, CEO of app developer Filimundus, one of Sweden’s early adopters of the 6 hour working day.

“To stay focused on a specific work task for 8 hours is a huge challenge. In order to cope, we mix in things and pause to make the work day more endurable.”

In other words, people are easily distracted, and need to break up a long working day. Anyone who’s ever been in permanent employment at one time or another will relate. Even the most hard-working employee will admit to surfing the net looking for last minute holidays and staring into space as the clock agonisingly ambles it’s way to 5pm and home time. 

But it’s not just about maximising productivity, or to be blunt, making more money either. It’s a two way street and the worklife balance of employees really matters. As Linus explains, the people who work for these companies benefit just as much as their employers. 

“We are finding 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.”

Sweden’s quest for improving it’s permanent workforce’s worklife balance is admirable - typically Swedish you could say. But let’s face it, it’s unsurprising. We’re talking about the world capital of innovation. This country is strides ahead of the competition when it comes to big thinking, brave business ideas and pushing on with radical change. 

Permanent employees are all too often are suffocated by rigid, tired out corporate structure, and dictated when, where and how they should work. You can understand why so many people are unsatisfied by the lack of control they have over their own careers - not to mention the reasons more than 120,000 people in the UK every year opt out of climbing the slippery career ladder, and instead, dive into self-employment.

Sweden’s 6 hour working day reflects that more freedom and flexibility is being handed to employees, but to truly enjoy a better worklife balance, the trick is to go freelance - there's no doubt about it. 

Hats off to Sweden for the far-sighted, forward thinking - it should be applauded, but at the same time noted that real freedom, and the opportunity to strike your own, unadministered worklife balance arrives the moment you start working for yourself - irrespective of whether you choose to work a 6, 7, 8 or even 12 hour working day.

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