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Pros and Cons of shorter work weeks

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Companies have been experimenting with shorter work days for at least a decade and, despite announcements that the 40-hour week is dead, there have been mixed results from the experiments.

The idea has been to cut hours while keeping pay the same.

On the plus side, employees love it.

Quoted in the New York Times, Swedish employees at hospitals and Toyota factories say they do just as much work in six hours as they did in eight and they are happier.

One audit of the experiment in a nursing home concluded that absenteeism was down while productivity and worker health improved.

On the downside, Swedish the experiment in work hours has costs Swedish taxpayers for what one politician called “paying people not to work.”

In France, the socialist government ordered a 35-hour work week in 2000. Companies bitterly complained that it reduced competitiveness and cost billions in additional hiring.
In Korea, a plan to reduce hours from 44 to 40 resulted in worker stress as employees struggled to get the same amount of work done in fewer hours, according to the Korean Journal of Happiness Studies.

One American company in 2004 experimented with a six-hour week and found employees worked harder but they didn’t interact and worker camaraderies ground to a halt as people struggled to get their work done in fewer hours, according to BBC Capital.

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