A six-hour workday could potentially decrease healthcare costs and reduce stress levels across the work force.
Svartedalens is part of a small but growing movement in Europe. Sweden has dabbled with shorter workdays before: From 1989 to 2005, home-care-services workers in one Swedish municipality had a six-hour work day, but it was abolished due to a lack of data proving its worth. The Svartedalens experiment is designed to avoid that problem: "This trial is very, very clean because it's just one homogenous group of workers," said Lorentzon. In Sweden's private sector, the practice is taking root in places such as Toyota service centers in Gothenburg. In the U.K., a marketing agency adopted a staggered schedule to allow for reduced work hours while ensuring coverage; a survey last month found that six out of 10 bosses in that country agreed that cutting hours would improve productivity.
The six-hour workday hasn't been the miracle that people have called it. A nursing home that implemented the six-hour workday had to hire 14 extra nurses to cover the extra hours.
Meanwhile, the trial at Svartedalen nursery home has just been extended another year. While the statistics aren’t yet in, interviews suggest that the nursing staff is happier, more alert and less stressed. The residents are also pleased, and the quality of care has increased. But the trial isn’t cheap: 14 new nurses have been hired to cover the extra shifts. This is also the primary concern among conservatives, who argue that a universal reduction working hours would be prohibitively expensive, cause stagnating wages with reduced growth and a diminishing tax base as the result.