Here is yet another reason to envy Sweden. As if its second-to-none universal health care system, paid maternity and paternity leave, and fika culture weren’t enough to make you want to drop your overworked American life and move there right this second, that nation has implemented another bold socio-economic experiment that will certainly leave Jeb! “People need to work longer hours” Bush and his invisible hand-stroked Republican cohorts in a tiff.
Several firms and agencies in Sweden are currently experimenting with something that would be anathema in the United States: a shorter workday. While most Americans are working more than 8.7 hours a day, the Swedish experiment calls for a mere 6-hour workday.
According to a report by guardian.com, at Svartedalens, a retirement home in the city of Gothenburg, “a small group of elderly care nurses have made radical changes to their daily lives in an effort to improve quality and efficiency.” After the change to the shorter 6-hour workday, Svartedlanes has noted a marked improvement in the quality of care provided by the nurses as well as their wellbeing.
Other Swedish companies and institutions are experimenting with the concept, as well. The orthopedic surgery unit at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University hospital as well as doctors and nurses at two different hospitals in Umea in the north of Sweden have converted to a 6-hour workday on a trial basis.
Brath, an internet startup located in the city of Örnsköldsvik on the eastern shore of Sweden along the Gulf of Bothnia, implemented a 6-hour workday when it started three years ago. The company’s founder, Maria Brath, claims the shorter workday gives the company a competitive advantage by attracting better staff and increasing worker longevity with the company.
Toyota service centers in Gothenburg have already been on the six-hour workday for 13 years. The managing director of the company, Martin Banck, reports that “Staff feel better, there is low turnover and it is easier to recruit new people.”
What a concept! Treat people like humans and they will be more loyal to your company and do better work. Maybe we’ve got it backwards in the United States. Hello Jeff Bezos!