Shorter Working Day Debate  

There are many articles online regarding a trend in Sweden to shorten the standard working day. The results have been somewhat ambiguous with some substantial benefits and also some substantial problems emerging as a result of this. Initially, the concept was introduced in an attempt to increase productivity and to improve the general quality of life by making people happier. The idea is that if people are in a better mood, they will get more done in a shorter amount of time.
Some companies have claimed that staying focussed on one particular task for eight hours is a difficult task, and that by shortening the time that their staff have to endure their concentration they have increased their productivity as well as reducing staff turnover and improving the happiness of the employees. An app developer - Filimundus, has reduced the working hours but also reduced meetings and distractions to allow their staff to concentrate more without interruption and has reported an increase in productivity because of this. The CEO also stated that staff had a greater control over their private lives with the additional time to spend doing what they enjoyed.
Some experts also claim that by shortening working hours it will improve staff health and, with a long term perspective, will make working until retirement age an easier task to accomplish as employees, particularly in labour intensive professions, would be less fatigued and maintain more energy for a longer time. These people argue that shorter working days creates a more sustainable labour market.
However, there has also been an experiment where the working hours of 68 nurses in an old people's home were reduced to the new working day in an attempt to improve staff satisfaction, health and patient care, and while initially this seemed successful, in the longer term it ended up costing the city considerably as they had to employ an additional 17 staff to cover the reduced hours of the original team, which, when looked at on a larger perspective, can potentially lower the costs of unemployment for the government, but not enough to cover the difference.
Dr Aram Seddigh, who recently completed his doctorate at Stockholm University's Stress Research Institute believes that the model can work for some businesses but not for others. He stated that the “sixhour work day would be most effective in organisations - such as hospitals - where you work for six hours and then you just leave [the workplace] and go home. It might be less effective for organisations where the borders between work and private life are not so clear” and suggests that employees with a set amount of work to complete each week might experience higher levels of stress as they try to fit in the same amount of productivity into a shorter time frame.
It seems that this the cost of improving staff welfare and productivity is too high for people with an economic mindset, but in the long term, the benefits could have a substantial positive effect on the work force.