The 30-hour workweek

The Swedish city Gothenburg is in the news this week for introducing a six-hour workday to public sector employees. The city hopes reducing working hours will improve productivity, result in fewer sick days, and save the city money.

This isn’t a new concept—in 1930, Kellogg’s instituted a six-hour workday to cut costs and provide jobs to those who’d lost them in the Great Depression. The short-term solution turned into a long-term policy—the six-hour program was in place in some form until 1985—after company president Lewis Brown noticed employees worked harder and more efficiently.

Employees everywhere probably hope their company will be the next to implement this policy, but in an age where mobility allows work to follow us everywhere,  the program may not be the best cure for employee exhaustion. A better solution might be France’s combination of a 35-hour workweek and its fresh mandate forbidding companies to contact employees after their work day is over.

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