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Swedish office | ©per egevad/Flickr
Swedish office | ©per egevad/Flickr
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Sweden's Trust in the Six-Hour Working Day

Picture of Judi Lembke
Updated: 14 June 2017
In an effort to increase productivity Swedes have been doing something that might seem counter-intuitive: testing a six-hour work day. Even the public sector has gotten onboard, although with somewhat middling results.

The Toyota centre in Gothenburg switched to a six-hour day 13 years ago and the company says staff is happier, less likely to quit and there’s been an increase in profits during that time. Another company, app developer Filimundus, introduced the six-hour day in 2015, with the belief that an eight-hour day is just not as productive.

Stockholm office building | ©Charlotta Wasteson/Flickr
Stockholm office building | ©Charlotta Wasteson/Flickr

In 2016, Filimundus CEO Linus Feldt told Fast Company, “To stay focused on a specific task for eight hours is a huge challenge. In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the work day more endurable.”

The trade-off, at least at Filimundus, is that employees are not allowed to use social media, but on the bright side there are a limited number of meetings. Feldt believes this makes staff more motivated and harder working when they’re in the office.

Some hospitals have also trailed the six-hour day, as well as a retirement home in Gothenburg, which trialled the scheme for one year in 2016. At the retirement home it was discovered that while staff satisfaction and patient care improved, an extra 17 staff members had to be hired, at a cost of SEK12 million (approximately £1 million) annually.

Swedish hospital | ©Udo Schröter/Flickr
Swedish hospital | ©Udo Schröter/Flickr

The general thinking as 2017 kicks off is that the six-hour work day can be very successful in certain sectors –particularly the vibrant startup and tech scenes – but that it has to be approached more carefully when it comes to critical jobs that are publicly funded, such as in hospitals and public transport.

At least Swedes still have those endless vacations!