As small owners, we often work more than a standard 40 hour working week. According to recent research, through the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, those who work more than 55 hours per week could be putting their health at risk, with links to strokes and heart problems.

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Coupled with this disclosure, is the fact Sweden has just introduced a standard 6 hour working day, not compulsory for all, but Swedish are trialing in certain sectors, whilst early-adopters have already started.

The Swedish thinking is quite simple. Those who work fewer hours should still be able to complete the work they need to accomplish in an eight hour working day, if they face fewer interruptions, such as , , and other , personal calls and texting, and emails. Employees can concentrate on what they really need to do and will be happier, better-rested and more motivated in the workplace. (Source:

However, working hours is just one motivational facet. Those companies able to easily revise their practices may adopt this but there will always be an opportunity cost between the length of a working day and the level of maintained, effective productivity, but it is more difficult when the business relies on fewer employees.

For SMEs, a six hour working day, feels like a world away from reality when there is so much to do; planning, business development, customer meetings, networking and dealing with daily administration and calls, even if you do have support. Alternative thinking may allow for split-days; so those who have school-runs, and that includes both sexes, to work around school hours, and add a working hour in the evening. Some UK companies do this already, but this is flexible working, rather than a reduction in hours.

Will the shorter working day work, or not? Will there still be disruptions to productivity and how will those results be measured? The review process should utilise data such as KPI results, individual performance reviews, turnover and absence statistics, as a minimum. However if the Swedish six working hour day does take off and it proves to be effective, there would be repercussions for UK businesses, if it becomes mandated as part of wider employment legislation, with pressure from other EU countries to follow suit. Swedish companies will start to reveal results a year from now, and the results will be enlightening to say the least.

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