Will six-hour workdays work? Sweden to test Results
Sweden’s Gothenburg City Municipal Council announced that it is willing to be a guinea pig for tests to see if six-hour workdays are more efficient than the standard seven-hour workday.
Gothenburg Deputy Mayor Mats Pilhem (Left Party) announced ‘We think it’s time to give this a real shot in Sweden.’ The council said it will assign one of its departments to be the test group and another to be the control group. One section will be working for six hours while the other will continue working for seven. Both groups will receive the same pay.
Pilhem said the test will see if shorter workdays for the same pay will lead to a boost in productivity, efficiency and improvements in employee mental and physical well-being.
The test is based on the idea that workers spending longer shifts at work are less efficient and take more sick days. The deputy mayor cited that in the health care sector, the problem is not staff shortage but employees working inefficiently in longer shifts. The move is also seen as a way to create more jobs.
Pilhem noted that a similar test carried out in a Gothenburg car factory led to positive results. However, there is strong opposition against the concept.
Maria Rydén (Moderate Party) said that the move is a ‘populist ploy’ since elections are drawing closer. She added that such a change would not lead to any huge impact in employee quality. Pilhem denied the allegation and said the plan is not new, adding that the Moderates have ‘always been against shortening hours.’ The Moderate party is supported primarily by business owners.
Various groups in Sweden have also experimented on shorter work hours though it has yet to prove popular among different sectors.