Now the clocks have gone back many workers could be left feeling like the days are drawing in with less time for leisure and relaxation after the dark, dreary commute home. Unfortunately, GMT is out of business owners’ hands, however the amount of daylight you afford your staff could be up for discussion!
Some companies in Sweden are moving to a 6-hour work day in a bid to increase productivity and make staff happier. Toyota centres in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, made the change 13 years ago. Since then the company has reported happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits in that time.
The drawbacks of such a scheme are of course two hours less work from each member of staff as well as potential costs associated with taking on extra workers to cover the shorter day. However, with new research reporting 6.5 million workers are unhappy at work maybe the positives outweigh the negatives.
So what are some of the reported benefits of a 6-hour work day?
Improved work-life balance
Researchers have found that support for a 6-hour work day increased among bosses in areas where workers had a longer commute, making it a struggle for them to achieve a work-life balance. 67 per cent of managers in Birmingham, 70 per cent in London and Cardiff and 88 per cent of respondents from Glasgow all championed the idea which would give their staff more time to spend with family and friends.
Many of the companies in Sweden that have adopted the 6-hour working day have reported a reduction in sick days. This is thought to be because of a combination of seeing more daylight, having more time to spend on leisure activities and getting more sleep!
Increase in productivity
In Sweden some employers imposed rules such as not allowing their staff to use social media to help avoid distraction. Many also kept meetings to a minimum and found that productivity actually increased as staff were more motivated to work intensely. In the UK four in 10 employers said they believed their staff would be just as productive in six hours as in eight hours. That’s twice as many as the number of respondents who thought the move would decrease productivity.
A boost to morale
The Swedish government carried out an experiment at Svartedalens retirement home by changing the nurses working day to just six hours. They found that the nurses were 20 per cent happier and 2.8 times less likely to take time off in a two week period.