Should UK firms follow Sweden’s lead and adopt a six-hour working day?

Should UK firms follow Sweden’s lead and adopt a six-hour working day?

More and more businesses in the Scandinavian country are shifting to a six-hour working day, seeking greater productivity in less time by cutting down on meetings and social media. Should companies in Britain follow suit and adopt a six-hour working day?

Yes, says Patrick Nash, chief executive of Connect Assist

Patrick Nash says UK firms should follow Sweden’s lead and adopt a six-hour working dayAs we are a 24-hour contact centre, many of our team work six-hour days, or 30-hour weeks, because it suits their lifestyles and allows them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Because we work with the most vulnerable in society, we wanted to create a team with different skills, backgrounds and reasons for wanting to make a difference. Put simply, a diverse workforce provides a better service because it can relate to the needs, motivations and fears of a wider range of people from a position of understanding and empathy, and not just because of training.

Longer working days and strict hours can alienate certain social groups. Those with young children, disabilities or sick relatives or friends, for example, may have other demands on their lifestyle that prevent them committing to full-time working hours.

By offering staff flexible hours and allowing them to work shorter days while maintaining full-time employment, they are often more engaged and motivated to do a good job. As a social business, it’s in the nature of what we do to be as inclusive as possible to all areas of society. However, it is important all employers comply with offering shorter working days if it is going to work. Only then will businesses be able to compete on a fair and level playing field.

No, says Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library

Lee Biggins says UK firms should not follow Sweden’s lead and adopt a six-hour working dayOne of the so-called ‘positives’ of the six-hour working day is that it allows staff to be more productive in the long run, when, in actual fact, this is the problem. Employees should already be working at optimum productivity; businesses shouldn’t be sacrificing working hours to keep their staff satisfied.

At CV-Library, employees are not permitted to use mobile phones or the internet for personal use during the work day; as a result, workers benefit from a structured day, while the business benefits from full productivity. On top of that, our research reveals that one in four workers have needed time off work due to stress; if workers are stressed when working more than 10 hours a day, it is unlikely to do them any good if they have to do the same amount of work in even less time.

Then, there are the financial implications – how will workers’ pay be affected if you cut their hours? If a business is running at full productivity and the working day is shortened, staff will either have to be paid the same salary for doing less work, or they will be paid less. Each business needs to find a solution that works for them. Enforcing a six-hour working day could work well for some industries but it could have drastic implications for others, because there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Would a six-hour working day boost productivity?  Let us know your views by email

About author

Chris Maxwell

Chris Maxwell

Director’s Deputy Editor spent nine years interviewing TV and film stars for Sky before joining the IoD in 2011 and turning the microphone on Britain’s business leaders. Since then he’s grilled everyone from Boris to Branson and, away from work, maintains an unhealthy obsession with lower league football.

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