Sweden’s six hour working day? Can we learn from it…

Sweden has made headlines in recent weeks after some companies decided to make the shift to a six-hour working day, in an effort to increase productivity and offer staff a more fulfilling work-life balance.

Interestingly, Toyota workplaces in Gothenburg went down this route thirteen years ago, with great success. It’s been reported that the business experienced a profit increase, higher retention of staff, and happier employees.

As an employer, it’s likely that you read the latest developments with great interest. But did you applaud the decision to do things a little differently, or did you roll your eyes and quietly confess to yourself that this kind of working arrangement could never work in your business?

The concept of an eight-hour working day is one that’s been carried down for generations, so it’s no surprise that so many companies work this way simply because they’ve never even stopped to consider any other alternative.

Maybe you think that cutting down the working day is a nice idea but not something that you could realistically try any time soon, and it’s true that you can’t successfuly roll out changes like this overnight. But the changing culture in Sweden offers an excellent opportunity for you to rethink how traditional working practices could be holding your business back.

Let’s consider the constraints of an eight-hour working day… There’s no denying that it’s almost impossible to stay alert and focused for the entirety of a nine-to-five shift. When it comes to your members of staff, and even your own performance, it’s highly likely that a significant chunk of the day is spent on mundane tasks that add no value to the business. From browsing social media to staring out the window looking for a little inspiration, eight hours in the office are very rarely eight hours of productivity.

And of course, we’re all familiar with how tricky it can be to find a happy balance between work and our personal lives. If we could find the secret sauce that allowed us to work less hours, enjoy more time at home, and still make an effective contribution at work, then the benefits could be endless.

A Liverpool based company Agent Marketing has done just this.  Trialing for 2 months having a shorter day in December and January, 9am – 4pm and for them it’s not just about having more time for family and out-of-work activities, but about creating new ways of working that allow for a better work-life balance, greater focus, heightened creativity as well as an atmosphere and environment people genuinely want to work in.

Swedish companies embracing the six-hour day will no doubt have their fair share of challenges ahead, but with effective leadership and a commitment to questioning the status quo, it could prove to be one of the most meaningful initiatives that the world of employment has ever seen.

If productivity is a problem in your workplace, or you’re simply looking for ways to get more from your staff, then get in touch today to arrange a no-obligation consultation. After taking the time to get to know your business and the key challenges that you’re facing, we can implement an action-plan to ensure that you’re on track to achieve your wider strategic goals.

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