This 6-Hour Workday Study Could Change Everything

Photographed by Claire Pepper.
How would a six-hour workday sound — for the same pay as an eight-hour workday? For most of us, that would be ideal, especially as the U.S. workweek is slowly getting longer. Of course, less work for the same pay probably doesn’t sound so great to the people cutting the checks. But a new government-funded experiment in Sweden has found that a shorter workweek could actually increase productivity — with one major caveat.

For the past year, 68 nurses at the Svartedalens retirement home have been working just 30 hours a week, and so far, the data points toward a few positive outcomes. Compared to those in a control group at a similar facility who were working eight-hour days, they reported being happier at work, more productive, and less likely to call out sick. The only real drawback: The company that owns the retirement home had to spend $735,000 in hiring additional nurses to cover the lost hours.

"If the nurses are at work more time and are more healthy, this means that the continuity at the residence has increased," Bengt Lorentzon, a researcher on the project, told Bloomberg. "That means higher quality [care]."

Better care or not, with that kind of financial impact to the bottom line, Bloomberg notes that it’s going to be a long time before the U.S. embraces shorter workdays. What does that mean for your future work-life balance? If you really want to cut your hours, it might be time to move to Denmark.
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