Do you find yourself tired from a long day at work? Ever thought that you didn’t get much done on days you worked more? Those feelings can be frustrating, especially when we expect our days to be more productive. The effects of working too much can lead to businesses losing money and time. While at the same time, workers’ health and productivity levels decline as well. But regularly, it can feel like a drag for some workers who do it day in and day out. Many people wish they could work fewer hours on a given day.
The Effects of Working Too Much: A Swedish City Experiment
To address the impact of working too much, some places in Sweden moved from adopting eight-hour workdays to six-hour workdays. For instance, the City of Gothenburg (Sweden) conducted a two-year experiment at an elderly care facility.
The issue was that the facility’s nurses were working longer days and felt fatigued most of the time. More so, the city implemented six-hour working days to see if this approach would address the nurses’ concerns.
Although the study lasted for two years ending back in February 2017, some positive results came out of the experiment. The results are noteworthy and should be considered by companies that have similar problems.
Similar to the post that I did on the four-day workweek study, a few findings from the Swedish study will be discussed in this post. Additionally, some short fallings and thoughts will be reviewed about the study. These findings include:
1.) Shorter Days Lead To Healthier Nurses
2.) Shorter Hours Meant Less Time Off For Nurses
3.) Shorter Days Found Nurses Feeling Less Stressed, More Energetic
The Effects of Working Too Much
Shorter Days: Healthier Nurses
Based on the study, it found that nurses who worked a six-hour workday felt healthier and more active outside of work. According to one of the researchers, Bengt Lorentzon said that “They were less tired, less sick, had more energy coming home and more time to do activities.” Nurses took fewer sick days than nurses who worked a typical, eight-hour workday. They slept about an hour longer than traditional nurses.
For example, the nurses with shorter workdays got about seven hours of sleep, compared to the other nurses getting less than six hours of sleep. The finding found that the nurses working shorter hours ended up taking fewer sick days than nurses throughout the entire city of Gothenburg.
Shorter Hours: Less Unexpected Time Off For Nurses
Another finding found the nurses who worked shorter days took fewer unplanned days off throughout the year. Based on the study, about less than five percent of the nurses took fewer sick days.
On the other hand, the nurses who worked long days took around 62.5 percent of sick days during the same timeframe. What a big difference between the two groups, that finding is something not to be ignored
Shorter Days: Less Stress, More Energy
Additionally, the experiment found the nurses who worked 6-hour workdays not feeling stressed out and were more energetic. The finding suggested that it ties all into higher morale.
For companies with great reputations, it’s likely their employees will have high confidence where they work. So employer morale is an essential factor. This case is mainly spot-on when companies take their employees’ needs and well-being as top priorities.
The Study’s Short Fallings
The study only lasted two years at this nursing facility. The city of Gothenburg had run out of funding, so the nurses switched back to a traditional, eight-hour day.
In particular, one nurse reported feeling more tired when she changed from six hours a day to eight hours a day. If the study had lasted longer, it’s possible it could have saved the facility more money.
More positive health results could have come out of the study, which may have reliable indicators for more companies to make the switch to shorter workdays.
Based on the initial findings, it clearly shows that shorter workdays are beneficial for both the employee (health, productivity) and the employer (business costs, saving money).
Thoughts On The Study
For myself, I found this study intriguing because I had similar issues in my last few jobs. Working more extended day of work took a toll on my health some days. I was tired of working consecutive days of overtime.
Even when I worked planned half days, I felt more energetic and got more done in about four hours of work. Compare it to eight hours or more; it’s incredible to think of getting more done in less time doesn’t sound right. But in some cases, it’s the exact opposite.
On another note, when you cut out time wasters on the job, it can make a difference in how much work an employee gets done. Some companies that have six-hour workdays have cut out easy time wasters, so to focus on more critical tasks.
There are many ways people waste time at work, such as unnecessary meetings and too much socializing with colleagues. I can’t imagine someone working at a place where it’s just endless meetings, along with little chit-chat conversations with their coworkers. Unfortunately, this is the case for many workers, and ultimately a reason why they end up working longer days.
Overall, the Swedish study conducted at the nursing facility had exciting results. From reading the research’s main points, the results are mostly positive. No further conclusions came about adopting six-hour workdays everywhere. But this one study is a good start moving forward.
If companies were to look at this one study, in particular, it’s a great way to increase productivity and potentially save money.
What are your thoughts on the idea of a six-hour workday?
Do you work at a place that implements shorter workdays?
Let me know by leaving a comment below. Please share it with others.
Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook and LinkedIn.