Culture: Work Vs Play
Everyone is talking about the 6 hour work day. The aim is to get more done in a short amount of time. While ensuring people have energy to enjoy their private lives. Toyota implemented the plan in 2002 and has reported happier staff and lower staff turnover and higher profits.
Sweden is moving to a six-hour working day in a bid to increase productivity and make people happier.
Employers across the country have already made the change, according to the Science Alert website, which said the aim was to get more done in a shorter amount of time and ensure people had the energy to enjoy their private lives.
Toyota centres in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, made the switch 13 years ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits in that time.
Filimundus, an app developer based in the capital Stockholm, introduced the six-hour day last year.
“The eight-hour work day is not as effective as one would think," Linus Feldt, the company’s CEO told Fast Company.
"To stay focused on a specific work 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. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work."
Mr Feldt has said staff members are not allowed on social media, meetings are kept to a minimum, and that other distractions during the day are eliminated - but the aim is that staff will be more motivated to work more intensely while in the office.
He said the new work day would ensure people have enough energy to pursue their private lives when they leave work – something which can be difficult with eight-hour days.
“My impression now is that it is easier to focus more intensely on the work that needs to be done and you have the stamina to do it and still have the energy left when leaving the office,” Mr Feldt added.
According to Science Alert, doctors and nurses in some hospitals in the country have even made the move to the six-hour day.
A retirement home in Gothenburg made the six-hour switch earlier this year and is conducting an experiment, until the end of 2016, to determine whether the cost of hiring new staff members to cover the hours lost is worth the improvements to patient care and boosting of employees’ morale.
What the research says.
Various organizations and independent researchers have looked at the physical, mental, emotional, and social effects of working beyond the standard 40 hours a week. Notable findings include the following:
- Working more than 10 hours a day is associated with a 60 percent jump in risk of cardiovascular issues.
- 10 percent of those working 50 to 60 hours report relationship problems; the rate increases to 30 percent for those working more than 60 hours.
- Working more than 40 hours a week is associated with increased alcohol and tobacco consumption, as well as unhealthy weight gain in men and depression in women.
- Little productive work occurs after 50 hours per week.
- In companies with normal overtime, only 23 percent had absentee rates above 9 percent. In companies with high overtime, 54 percent had absentee rates above 9 percent.
- Individuals working 11 hours or more of overtime have an increased depression risk.
- Injury rates increase as work hours increase. Those who work 60 hours per week have a 23 percent higher injury hazard rate.
- In companies with an 8.7 percent overtime rate, researchers found no fatigue-related problems. When the overtime rate was 12.4 percent, however, fatigue-related problems were minor. By the time the overtime rate hit 15.4 percent, fatigue-related problems were severe.
- In manufacturing industries, a 10 percent increase in overtime yields a 2.4 percent decrease in productivity.
- In white collar jobs, productivity declines by as much as 25 percent when workers put in 60 hours or more.
- Many of the problems identified above tie to stress, which connect to hormonal balances. Specifically, stress raises cortisol, which can disrupt sleep, appetite, blood pressure, immune system function, memory/cognition, mood, and more.