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The Dream Is Dead: Swedes' 6-Hour Workday Didn’t Work

Gothenburg ends its 2-year experiment
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2017 9:09 AM CST

(Newser) – Think happier, healthier lives are worth any amount of money? The Swedes aren't so sure. Two years after adopting a six-hour workday, the Swedish city of Gothenburg says it will end the experiment over cost concerns, though it appeared to make workers happier and more productive. Indeed, in the first 18 months, 68 nurses at a Gothenburg care home for seniors with dementia who switched from eight- to six-hour workdays but kept the same salary reported feeling more fulfilled, less tired, and took 6% fewer sick days than nurses working 40 hours per week at a hospital, reports Inverse. Patients also reported improved care, while social activities at the facility increased by 80%.

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But all that came at a cost, reports Bloomberg: Gothenburg had to pay $1.3 million to hire 17 additional staff to fill out the workday. Instead of teams of four working eight-hour shifts together, teams of five were scheduled in overlapping shifts. And the expense wasn't worth the benefit. "I personally believe in shorter working hours as a long-term solution" but "it's far too expensive to carry out a general shortening of working hours within a reasonable time frame," says a local politician. He adds officials are "looking for other areas in which we can make work-time innovations, even if those aren't transitions to six-hour work days," though six-hour workday experiments are still taking place in other parts of the country, per Business Insider. (This country's workers can now ignore work emails at home.)

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