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Give us a six-hour day like Sweden

Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest

The 8-hour working day has been entrenched in British culture since the days of the Industrial Revolution when Robert Owen campaigned for “Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest”.

That might all be about to change however as the results of a new poll show major support amongst both workers AND bosses for a Swedish style six-hour day!

The survey, commissioned by Crown Workspace, polled both employees and bosses and found that three-quarters of office workers (75 per cent) said they were in favour of the six-hour working day.

What’s more, three out of five bosses (60 per cent) also say they would consider introducing a six-hour working day in their business – rising to three-quarters in London and 88 per cent in Glasgow. Tellingly, the figure for those working in HR was an incredible 100%!

Since Sweden started trialling a six-hour working day, British employees and employers have been toying with the idea. Now it seems the concept really might have legs.

What employees say:

  • Half of office workers said they would do just as much work in six hours as they can in eight – rising to 62 per cent amongst  45-54 year olds
  • Over a third said it would improve their wellbeing
  • 28% said it would improve relationships with family
  • 27% said it would make them more creative
  • 16% said they would take fewer sick days, rising to one quarter for those in Edinburgh
  • Only 12% thought they would be less productive

And what the bosses say: 

  • Two out of five think staff would be just as productive in six hours as they are in eight, rising to three-quarters in the legal sector
  • Two out of five agree it would improve the wellbeing of staff
  • A third said it would improve relationships with family
  • One third believed staff would take fewer sick days
  • 29% thought it would make staff more creative
  • Only one in five feared staff would be less productive

Barry Koolen, Regional Managing Director at Crown Workspace commented:
“The introduction of a six-hour working day has already been implemented by some employers in Britain with many reporting positive results – improved employee focus and productivity. Historically the British eight-hour working day was created to encourage a work-life balance and these findings suggest we may soon see a new cultural shift towards a six-hour working day.”


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