Is shifting to a 6-hour work day the recipe for happiness?

Not much has changed since the Henry Ford era, right? At least when it comes to working hours. But what is it with the 6-hour work-day?

The 8-hour work day and the 5-day working week have been introduced more than 100 years ago. How relevant and valid can this be, today?

No, no, we don’t mean working more hours. This has unfortunately been the case in most of the Western world societies. We mean working less. But how much less? And how can this system be beneficial not only to employees but businesses as well?

Swedes are known for their innovative thinking. It is no wonder that the new trends most of the times start in the Nordics. More and more businesses in Sweden experiment with shorter working hours.

Here is the example of two small Swedish firms that introduced the 6-hour work day. Filimundus and Brath. They managed to have the work done, happier employees and growth.

Read on to find out how they did it and what were the benefits they managed to reap!

It’s all about productivity

In the case of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus, it was an easy decision to be made. As their CEO, Linus Feldt, told Fast Company, the 8-hour work day is not as effective as one might think.

He is so right. According to research in the US, less than 50% of the time at work is spent on um, the actual work to be done. The rest is spent on email communication, meetings, administrative tasks and interruptions. Wow!

And then again, after all this, everybody is fatigued and lacks the energy to enjoy their personal lives. So, Linus thought of introducing the 6-hour work day. But this had a price tag.

He asked employees that in order for this system to actually work, to the benefit of both themselves and the company, they had to commit to two things:
– no social media during work hours
– no personal distractions (like doing personal tasks)

Also, some unnecessary meetings were scrapped.

The benefits are astonishing. First and foremost, work is done and productivity has increased. Employees are happier but what was remarkably evident was the higher energy levels of the employees. A more positive vibe and mood were in the office. Fewer conflicts and arguments, more teamwork.

And all this scheme has not been proven costly. On the contrary, the firm has managed to grow even more.

The smart thing to do

Brath is another case of Swedish inventiveness. As their CEO, Aaron Axelsson, claims, they cut working days short and they did it because it was the smart thing to do.

The obvious (or not so obvious) benefit was that they outsmarted the competition. Everybody can claim that they have a nice working environment, with free food and coffee, playrooms, long holidays and resting places. But everyone knows that Brath has shorter work days and this does not even have to be advertised. So, they manage to attract the best talent.

Furthermore, the positive impact that the shorter working hours have on employees’ lives make them appreciate that and stay with the company much longer. Can you imagine going back to an 8 (or more) hour work day after working for 6 hours daily for some time? Major turn off.

Mission accomplished. Brath manages to keep its employees happy. Rested too. And this boosts productivity and creativity. Business goes well, employees are happy and retained.

Is the 6-hour work day for everybody?

Well, this can be debated. There has also been a case of an elderly care house in Sweden that introduced the 6-hour work day but the results were mixed. Happier employees and higher productivity BUT much higher cost (because more nurses had to be hired).

It’s all a matter of perspective: what matters the most? Happiness or money? Both, at least for businesses. But then again, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

But it sounds really amazing to say to your kids “Hey, dad is going to be late from work today. He will be back at 5 pm”. Right?

Image: Elliott Elliott/