Nurses at the Svartedalen elderly care home in Gothenburg, Sweden have spent the last eight months working six-hour workdays in an experiment to test the quality and efficiency of changing up the work week.

 

The experiment has allowed these nurses to work less, while making the same wages as they would have in an eight-hour day. According to the head of elderly care, the nurses are performing at higher levels on the job, and they’re maintaining healthier lifestyles.        

 

“I used to be exhausted all the time, I would come home from work and pass out on the sofa,” said assistant nurse Lise-Lotte Pettersson. “But not now. I am much more alert; I have much more energy for my work, and also for my family life.”  

 

Sweden’s Sahlgrenska University hospital and various small businesses have followed the nursing home’s lead by making the switch to six-hour work days. So far, working less has been helpful for the small businesses by retaining more employees and increasing profit. Gothenburg’s Toyota services centres switched to six-hour shifts 13 years ago, and according to the company’s managing director, Martin Banck, employees are much happier and make less mistakes.    

 

A tired man sits at a computer desk

More and more Americans are working overtime to get by.

While more people in Sweden are working less, many employees in the United States are working more. According to a Gallup poll, 50 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they work over 40 hours a week, and 18 percent of that group works more than 60 hours. Overworked employees have a much more difficult time focusing on their work and are more prone to making errors.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “the 9th and 12th hours of work were associated with decreased alertness and increased fatigue, lower cognitive function, [and] declines in vigilance on task measures.”

 

If six-hour workdays increases in popularity throughout Sweden, maybe more companies in the United States will start experimenting with shorter shifts. The nursing home’s experiment will come to an end by late 2016, but it’s gaining political interest that may shift the nation’s standard towards a 30-hour work week.  

 

Will Sweden change their work-time laws after this experiment? Should the United States experiment with a six hour work day? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.