Swedes’ Solution: Six-Hour Workday Reaps Benefits

Many Americans work 50 hours a week or more because they think they’ll get more done and reap the benefits later. However, according to a metastudy published in The Lancet, people who clock a 55-hour week have a 33 percent greater risk of stroke and 13 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who maintain a 35- to 40-hour work week.

Data from 25 studies that monitored the health of 600,000 people from the U.S., Europe and Australia for up to 8.5 years were analyzed.

Paul Kelley, of Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, notes that even a traditional nine-to-five workday is at odds with peoples’ internal body clocks, contributing to sleep deprivation.

Now Sweden is moving toward a standard six-hour workday, with some businesses having already implemented the change. Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm app developer Filimundus, reports that the shift has maintained productivity while decreasing staff conflicts, because people are happier and better rested. Several Toyota service centers in Gothenburg that switched to a six-hour day 13 years ago also report happier staff, a lower turnover rate and increased ease in enticing new hires. A Swedish retirement home has embarked on a yearlong experiment to compare the costs and benefits of a shorter working day.

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