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How to boost business productivity: Cut down to six-hour work days and eat cake, like the Swedes

How productive are you really for the last two hours of your working day or in the last afternoon of your working week? The Swedes are all for working in a focused way, but for shorter periods, than is the norm in the US, UK or even South Africa. They have found that these power bursts lead to more creativity and productivity. People have more time to exercise and relax – so they are refreshed, energetic and happier at work, which can only be good for a business. BJ Epstein, a US immigrant in Sweden, explains how she has slowly come round to the idea that we should not be defined by what we do and that a balanced life is preferable to working like a wage slave. Her arguments make perfect sense, of course, to anyone who embraces the idea that you only live once and should therefore make the most of your hours on earth. Epstein highlights proof from companies that a six-hour working day is having the effect of lower staff turnover rates and an increase in profits. Try telling this all to your profit-driven boss who is used to wringing as much time, and more, out of employees. Realistically, it is not so easy to convince bosses focused on the invoice schedule and other short-term measurements that less can be more when it comes to clocking up work hours. Still, give it a try: you just might find that demonstrating a more ‘lagom’ attitude to your job will result in more ‘fika’, and vice versa. – Jackie Cameron

By BJ Epstein*

"You’re very … industrious."

This was how I was described by one resident when I was living and working in Sweden. And trust me – it was not meant as a compliment.

Because, as I discovered over time, although Swedes work hard and with dedication, they do not think their jobs define them. I gradually noticed that people tended to have a healthy work-life balance, and a sense of themselves that was broader than whatever it was they did to make money. Read the rest of the article here.

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