This article was published by The Telegraph
Gothenburg’s public sector employees will have their working hours reduced while being kept on the same pay in effort to create a healthier, happier and cheaper workforce
A Swedish city has embarked on an experiment in limiting the workday to six hours in an effort to improve productivity.
A section of employees of the municipality of Gothenburg will now work an hour less a day than the seven hours customary in the Scandinavian social democracy famed for its work-life balance.
The measure is being self-consciously conceived of as an experiment, with a group of municipal employees working fewer hours and a control group working regular hours – all on the same pay. The groups’ performances will then be compared.
It is hoped that the experiment will ultimately save money by making employees more productive in their working hours.
Mats Pilhem, the city’s Left-wing deputy mayor, told The Local Swedenthat he hoped “staff members would take fewer sick days and feel better mentally and physically after working shorter days”.
The measure comes as a new labour agreement in France orders employees to avoid checking their professional emails and phones after work while employers are legally obliged to ensure workers come under no pressure to keep up-to-speed out of working hours.
Anna Coote, Head of Social Policy at the New Economics Foundation, a UK-based think tank, welcomed the proposals.
“Shorter working hours create a more committed and stable workforce,” Ms Coote told The Telegraph. “There are indications you can make savings by reducing working hours,” she added, citing an experiment in Utah where public sector workers were given a three-day weekend.
According to OECD data, there is a correlation between shorter working hours and greater productivity. The Greeks are the hardest working members of the OECD, putting in more than 2,000 hours a year compared with the Germans’ 1,400, but their workers are 70 per cent less productive than their Teutonic counterparts.