Some offices and workplaces in Sweden are trialling a six-hour working day which includes a one hour lunch break. This idea seeks to improve the work-life balance which has received greater attention in recent years.
Shorter working hours seem to be an all-round good idea. Preliminary results show a greater quality of work and a lower incidence of stress amongst employees. Workplaces are seeing greater productivity and work output rather than less (which most of us would expect as an unavoidable consequence of a shorter working day). People are getting to spend more time with their families, taking part in new activities and experiences. People also have more time to look after themselves. Less working hours for many means less hours staring at a computer screen, less time cooped up in a stuffy office building, sitting in chairs with bad posture and drinking too much caffeine. Rather time is freed up to spend with the kids, family and friends. Time to hit the gym, finish a book, get outside and cook healthy meals from scratch instead of reaching for the take-out menu after a long day on our feet.
There seems to be no end to the benefits but the cynic in me just isn’t convinced. Perhaps I have too bleak a view on mankind. However, when I imagine what we would do given those precious few extra hours images of non-stop Netflix, bad YouTube videos and general staring at a computer screen come to mind. Hustling the kids from one activity to the other whilst still feeling guilty about that well-known drain on our bank account – the unused gym membership. Maybe I need to have more faith in mankind. Maybe we will put the time to good use should the chance for shorter working days come our way. Until such a time that trials have run for longer and there is further proof of the long-term benefits of a six-hour working day you will find me at my laptop after a long day of 9-5.