Recently it was reported that Sweden is moving towards a six hour work day. Now this isn’t entirely a new idea, in fact many companies in Sweden (and even entire cities) have played around with the concept since the 1990’s. However, it would seem the six hour workday is experiencing a bit of a second wind in the era of small entrepreneurial startups looking to boast about employee quality of life.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many employers have noted following the shift to a six hour day their staff were much more relaxed, sick less often, and overall more focused while at work. I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of taking a personal call while at work, or quickly running off to do some banking since the banks will be long closed by the time I’m off. Or sitting at my desk discretely checking Facebook, waiting for the clock to read an “acceptable” time to head out.
However, if six hours was an acceptable work day there would be plenty of time after work to go to the bank and complete other personal errands. Furthermore that afternoon lull wouldn’t occur. Really how productive are most of us after 8 or 10 hours at work anyways? For that matter, how many of us can truly remain focused and completely on task for that length of time? I don’t doubt for the majority of us it would be much more beneficial to simply check out and unwind, then approach the next day refreshed and focused.
While the workday hours don’t technically apply to graduate students (we don’t have a minimum set number of hours) the concept of working shorter hours and more efficiently is often entirely overlooked in graduate school. There is a common perception in graduate school that if you are practically living in the lab, you’re doing it right. In contrast, show up at 8am and leave at 5pm and you will forever be labelled a slacker.
I am a “slacker”, and proud of it.
Maybe after graduating I should look for a job in Sweden…