What if we had a 6-hour work day?

What if we had a 6-hour work day?

April 28, 2016

Have you ever thought about the work hour trend we have in Bangladesh? Is it really fair and efficient? Is there any way we could do more or at least an equal amount of work in a lesser amount of time? Let us take a walk around the different trends available on this context and their impacts.

The Swedish work-life balance recipe

I would like to start by a recent example set by the Swedish people which have got swedenmassive attention of the media in recent days. This year they introduced six-hour work day all around the country. How is that for a change? Trying to search for the perfect work-life balance has long been a Swedish passion. That was exactly their aim behind going for such a change. The idea is to get the equal amount of work done in lesser time which will also allow the employees to dedicate more times in their private lives. Initially this was launched with some form of an experimental view. You will surely be happy to know the result!

A six-hour work day proved to be a more efficient approach in Sweden. As a result of this change, CEOs from different industries have reported happier employees, increased profit and lower turnover rate so far. More importantly, productivity of employees increased like never before. What else could be a problem for them?

Now, if you are wondering what could be all the drastic measures that they had to take, you don’t need to. The process and the changes are really very simple. As normal human beings, we can’t really keep the focus on something for hours at stretch. In this context, being focused for 8 to 10 hours is a big challenge. When it comes down to six hours, the job becomes more convenient with better focus. Of course there are some added restrictions. Employees are advised not to use social media and meetings are kept to a minimum. When the trade off is a better private life with more time, these little adjustments seem totally justified for the employees.

Response from UK

UK-Union-FlagWhen workers say they’d love a six-hour workday, no one finds it particularly shocking. Why wouldn’t they be happy with lesser work hours? But when bosses and HR people also start supporting the idea, that’s when everyone starts looking into it. Let’s talk about some numbers from UK to make you believe.

According to a survey commissioned by Crown Workplace Relocations, 75 percent of employees were for a six-hour workday. In London, the figure rose to 78 percent. Among bosses, 60 percent said they’d consider introducing such practice. In London, the figure rose to 75 percent, and in Glasgow it was the highest – 88 percent. The figure for those working in HR was 100 per cent.

Which country embraces this next? I have a feeling that it’s going to become an international trend pretty soon.toyota-logo-BE11A14C6B-seeklogo.com

Toyota’s Success

The Toyota service centers in Gothenburg switched to a six-hour day 13 years ago and report happier staff, a lower turnover rate and, to no one’s surprise, ease in enticing new employees to join the company. Profits have risen 25 per cent for the company as well. So it gives us the confidence to term the six-hour work day as an established game changer.

What are we waiting for?

CaptureMost of the workplaces in Bangladesh currently maintain a work day of 8-10 hours on average. The world already knows why this is not efficient and what a solution is. What are we waiting for then?

Talking to a number of professionals, the idea seemed to be quite feasible even in here. After all, lunch break, namaj break and nico breaks are common in almost all the workplace cultures of Bangladesh. Employees are happy to accept the tradeoff when they were told about a six hour work day instead. The only difficulty concern was raised by professional from financial institutions like commercial banks. Amir Rashed Khan, Senior manager of a renowned private bank gave us an insight into the concern. “A six hour work day would be sort of difficult for the banks since our clients (branch banking hours) come in from 10am till 4pm (we even offer evening banking till 8pm). So for a 6 hour work day we would need multiple shifts with different sets of staff per day which might not be the most cost efficient solution “

But he also did support our idea that companies that do not have any client facing dependency will not face such a problem. We also found some additional benefits in the Bangladeshi context if this can be applied,

  • If different institutions went for a six hour work day, with the help of government regulations different time schedules could be suggested to different industries. This could ease the traffic situation of Dhaka city to some extent as everyone wouldn’t be running for office at the same time.
  • This could reduce the pressure on electricity to some extent utilizing which factories could accelerate their production. If increase in shifts is a cost effective option then, with the increased supply of electricity, factories could be used to employ more people helping our economy in turn.

So even after all these, if your CEO is still not deciding to make the move, what’s the solution then?

Let’s go Sweden!


by Rafsan Sabab Khan

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