Is it exhausting to work long hours? Can we shift to working 6 hours a day instead of 8 hours a day?
Businesses may lose money and time due to the effects of working too much. 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.
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UPDATED: JANUARY 29, 2023
Is working 6 hours a day bad?
The idea of working shorter workdays (such as 6 hours a day) had been discussed for a long time. According to my perspective of the world, the views are generally mixed on this issue. Shorter workdays have a wide range of benefits; however, some people state that longer days are necessary to get more work done.
The health and productivity of a worker are two of these benefits. Whether those factors should be taken into account or not, it is worth looking at shorter workdays.
Where are six-hour workdays being implemented? A case study in Sweden
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.
Nurses at the facility were working long days and feeling fatigued most of the time. More so, the city implemented six-hour working days to see if this approach would address the nurses’ concerns.
The goal of this post is to discuss a couple of findings from the Swedish study. Additionally, some shortcomings and thoughts will be discussed regarding the study.
- Shorter Days: Healthier Nurses
- Shorter Hours: Less Unexpected Time Off For Nurses
- Shorter Days: Less Stress, More Energy
- The Study’s Short Fallings
Shorter Days: Healthier nurses
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.
Based on the study, they 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- compared to other nurses throughout the entire city of Gothenburg.
Shorter Hours: Less unexpected time off for nurses
Another finding found that 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 did not feel 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 in 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.
For myself, 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 regarding this matter.Eric T. Seil (Founder of notimekillers.com)
The study’s short falling
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).
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Thoughts on the study
Myself, I found this study intriguing because I had similar issues in my last few jobs. Working more extended days 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.
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. A company that looked at this one study, in particular, could increase productivity and possibly save money.
Your Turn: What do you think about the study?
I would like to know your thoughts about this study in general. What do you think about the idea of a six-hour workday? Do you work at a place that implements shorter workdays?
Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond back promptly.
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Eric is a content writer and the site owner of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. 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 enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can follow Eric on LinkedIn.
10 thoughts on “When People Work Too Much: Is Working 6 Hours A Day Better?”
Truth be told, a working day for me has seldom less than 10 hours… however, I have to admit that if people could have a shorter week- they could be more productive and healthier.
People who are on good terms with life will undoubtedly become more assertive in decision making. Also, they can be better professionals, for sure!
Thanks a lot for sharing and keep safe!
Thank you for your comment.
I agree with you about shorter workdays. There are many benefits to why it’s better, compared to 10+ hour workdays. It can be too much for some people (even myself sometimes).
Being on good terms in life can lead to better decisions. It sure does help when it comes to working jobs that are meaningful. Also, when the health benefits are great with the shorter workdays. This case study showed some good results of shorter workdays.
Thank you again for your input- very much appreciated!
That’s the best idea I have heard in a long time! People would actually look forward to going to work knowing they wouldn’t be there the whole day.
Quite often you’re there longer than 8 hours. The 2-hour difference would increase productivity.
I have a business with staff and I think they could do the same amount of work in 6 hours. Having time for activities would create a good work/play balance which is so important.
It really is something to think about.
Thank you very much for your comment.
Yes, I know what you mean by working much longer days than eight hours. But shortening it to the six-hour approach can increase productivity dramatically. That was kind of the case with the study done in Sweden a while back.
It amazes me that the world has not figured this one out alright (besides a few countries). Maybe we’re still stuck with the same old system (working 9-5, five days a week), but who knows if that’ll change in the years ahead.
I agree with you on having more time available to do things besides work. It’s important that even adults incorporate leisure/playtime regularly. That’s how we evolve as human beings and need that right balance between personal and professional life.
I greatly appreciate your input- it sure is something to think about. Maybe things we’ll change down the road, but that remains to be seen.
Thanks again for your comment!
Eric, Your article on working six hours a day was an interesting review of the Swedish Case Study and said much about shorter working hours. I have always believed that, many times, people will spread the work to fill the time. So that the possibility of creating more productivity with shorter working hours is definitely a winning strategy. With longer sleep times and shorter working hours, workers have more energy. This can then be channeled into the workday tasks to achieve better and faster outcomes. Thanks for this interesting article.
I always thought that working longer hours meant people intentionally killing time during the day. Even in my experience, I’ve found that to be the case in previous jobs.
When that happens, then people aren’t using their time wisely. It sure is a problem when people could be filling that dead time doing things that matter the most. For example, learning a new skill or reading a book.
Working shorter hours (while sleeping longer) is certainly a winning strategy. I agree with you on that; hopefully, that may become a reality at some point in time. But we shall see what happens.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic- it’s very much appreciated!
Amen, I couldn’t agree with this post more. I have always found that either a shorter work week, or shorter days would help tremendously with workplace stress overall.
You know I always wondered why as students we would only have 6 hour days, but when we go and get a job and start working that we would be expected to work 8 hour days, sometimes without proper breaks.
I know that when I have a stat weekend and only work 4 hour days I am noticeably more productive and relaxed. If a vote came out to mandate 4 hour work weeks, or even 6 hour x 5 day work weeks I would be all for it.
I feel that there’s a growing consensus about shorter workdays/workweeks meaning more productive schedules for most people. That seems to be the attitude, and there’s little to no opposition against this idea.
It’s interesting how the schedule structure differs when we went to school as children. Thinking about how that is vastly different when we go to work as adults- you would think the structure would be similar to make things easier on our part.
Sharing your experience about how to work on a typical weekend is valuable. It shows that working shorter days (even 4 hours in your case) proves that shorter workdays may just be the solution moving forward.
But as I mentioned in previous comments, we’ll see what happens down the road.
Thank you very much for sharing your insights. I think they were valuable to our readers, especially when trying to get a different perspective on an interesting subject.
Thank you for sharing again- it’s very much appreciated.
It would be great to see additional studies on this topic. I agree that a 6-hour workday would be more productive. I previously had an employer who assigned workload and tasks based on 6.5 hours of productive work during an 8-hour day. He believed that 1.5 hours of the day would be used for breaks, chatting, and whatever else.
I also agree that 6-hour workdays would be more beneficial to the employer and employee. I know I am more organized and efficient when I have a limited timeframe to work with. Plus, having the extra hours to actually live life is a plus. I do think newer generations are very cognizant of work life balance and will push initiatives for shorter workdays.
I think more studies on this topic will continue to come out. Although this study has great information, future studies may have even more information that we’re not even aware of.
It’s become more apparent that 6-hour workdays are much better overall. For productivity gains and health advantages, there’s a lot to take in consideration.
You make an excellent point about what else we can do in that extra 1.5 hours worth of time. Just think about what else we can get done.
Also, it shows that 8-hour workdays may be a little too long; or in other words, a waste of time. So there’s something to think twice about moving forward.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts- I greatly appreciate what you have to say about this study.