Sweden's Scrapping the Six-Hour Workday Because It Costs Too Much

But don't get too cocky about it, Mr. 110%

By Kirk Miller

 
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06 January 2017

Turns out a six-hour workday isn’t feasible. Yet.

A recent two-year experiment in Sweden to cut work hours and maintain pay levels for nurses in an old people’s home just ended, with mixed results. According to Bloomberg, it was great for the nurses: they felt better, took less sick leave and patient care improved. But it was bad news for the government: the extra staff cost an additional $1.3 million.

At this point, you’re either A) sad, because it’s a step backward for worker health and/or laziness, or B) thrilled, because you know that hard work and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule are the only way we’re going to survive, kids these days, get off my lawn, etc.

Relax. As automation replaces more and more jobs, this is the future. Inevitably so. See also: France, where they're having second thoughts about a reduced 35-hour work week but still making it harder to send work emails after hours. And half of the U.S. workforce can already do work from home: again, that might not be fewer hours, but it offers a less stressful, more flexible environment.

And Sweden is still experimenting: they already know productivity can improve with reduced work hours, something yours truly certainly agrees with. It’s analogous to the adage, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” Give a person six hours, not eight, to complete a task, and they’re more likely to focus. And with two additional hours a day, that  person will have more time for all those non-job important things — like, you know, family, friends, hobbies, personal growth, etc. Or simply more time to think.

And note to all you all-work-no-play types: Based on what you click on our site, we know exactly what you’re wishing for.

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