Six-hour workday can make you happier, healthier

This story recently appeared
in the Washington Post

Forget diets, fitness and employee wellness programs.
U.S. firms may find shorter workdays are the way to cutting health-care costs.
That’s one suggestion from a controversial experiment in Scandinavia — the cradle of worker-friendly capitalism. The study questioned Sweden’s eight-hour workday.
Work-life balance is now an international issue. French Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon wants to end that nation’s 35-hour workweek and return to 39 hours.
“Given the attention in international media this small pilot project in Gothenburg, Sweden has received, it is clear the issue attracts broad interest,” said Gothenburg Deputy Mayor Daniel Bernmar, who helped promote the study.
A 23-month study at an elderly care facility in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city, found that nurses – considered a high-stress profession – were happier, healthier and more energetic when working six-hour days instead of eight hours.
The number of nurses who had energy when they left work after six hours increased from one in five to more than half, compared with when they worked eight hours.
Having the energy to spend the rest of your day productively may have also led to a 24 percent improvement in the level of physical activity. “Less tiredness and more physical activities is the major improvement,” said Bengt Lorentzon, one researcher on the study. Being tired at the end of the day means “just sitting on the couch and looking at the television.”
The study reached other conclusions: the six-hour nurses overall were more active, less sick, less stressed and had less back and neck pain than nurses working eight-hour shifts.
(Editor’s Note: I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted a six-hour workday! And, let’s make that five days a week — not six or seven.
Heck, I bet we’d all live to 100, or at least to 90, if we just worked 30 hours a week.
There’s just one problem with all this. In many professions and businesses, it’s still pretty hard to make a living with a six-hour workday — and still get the work done and the weekends off.
I know. I may be “old school,” but you can say all you want about working smarter instead of harder. All of our technology is great, but the fact is that life requires some hard work to get ahead — and sometimes that requires some long hours.
On the other hand, I think I’ll hang around awhile to find out how that six-hour workday idea works out.– J.D