The six hour work day: is technology paving the way forward
First hot-desking, now this – those ever-progressive Nordics have once again revolutionised the way we work, with Sweden announcing that it’s moving toward a six-hour workday.
Unsurprisingly, many welcome the change. In Sweden it’s been a long time coming, with many of the country’s top organisations and banks having practiced the policy for a number of years already.
The theory is that with a greater balance between work and life, workers are happier, more focused, and productive when they’re on the clock. What’s more, information technology has afforded us the ability to get more done each day with less work and effort – it’s about time the benefits be passed on to the real machines behind it all.
But while it makes sense in Sweden, does the policy translate to us here down under?
Opponents qualm with the effects on not individual productivity, but national productivity. Two hours less each day means 520 less over the course of a year. While there’s an argument to say that in certain fields of employment, those hours are lost anyway to unproductive activity, there could be an impact on GDP.
Will our nation really become less wealthy if we all knock off at three as opposed to five? To look at it historically, similar fears were levelled at none other than mega-industrialist, Henry Ford, after he mandated two-day weekends for his factory workers in 1931 – effectively popularising the two-day weekend we enjoy now. With GDP rising ever since in spite of the move, it seems better technology has bridged the gap – and we can only foresee the same happening for the lost time of a six-hour workday.
Tech savvy SMEs are reaping the rewards of technology as the efficiencies gained mean that saved time can be invested elsewhere. Regardless of where you sit on the six-hour work day debate, working smarter, not harder (or longer) should be the motto for any businesses wanting to breed a productive employee culture.