The Svartedalens Experiment


Sweden are experimenting with a shorter working day:

“I used to be exhausted all the time, I would come home from work and pass out on the sofa,” says Lise-Lotte Pettersson, 41, an assistant nurse at Svartedalens care home in Gothenburg. “But not now. I am much more alert: I have much more energy for my work, and also for family life.”

The Svartedalens experiment is inspiring others around Sweden: at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University hospital, orthopaedic surgery has moved to a six-hour day, as have doctors and nurses in two hospital departments in Umeå to the north. And the trend is not confined to the public sector: small businesses claim that a shorter day can increase productivity while reducing staff turnover.

Oh but:

Despite the positive signs, the experiment is likely to end next year – the centre-left coalition on Gothenburg council has lost its majority, and the Conservatives and Liberals are firmly opposed to reduced working hours.

Of course!

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

6 Responses to “The Svartedalens Experiment”

  1. Spoonman says:

    I think people and in Japan and Korea desperately need something like this. They are expected to show up to work for 12-14 hours, even on Saturdays! Most of the time they just sit on their hands.

  2. That’s spooky! I just edited an article on that very subject not two hours ago for Issue 12. (Japan exclusively, not Korea).

  3. Eric B says:

    Certainly a worthwhile experiment, and of course there is a cost to paying staff the same amount for fewer hours.

    Still, why not continue the experiment and just reduce pay commensurately?

    I’d certainly take a 25% drop (or slightly more, accounting for benefits) in exchange for 25% less time spent working, although I’m not sure how many other takers there would be…

  4. So would I. I suspect, however, that wouldn’t be a popular option!

  5. chris says:

    I work 8 hours per week (4 days x 2hours). Magic. I love watching professional peoples facial expressions when I convey this information. It’s pretty much a crime in the UK to work any less than 40 hours. Some days, my commute involves a 2 hour walk (adventure) or a 50minute bike ride if i can be bothered to prepare the bike. Other days, I freeride the metro. AFter my 2 hour stint (teaching), i read in the library, have a kip and wander around 🙂

  6. That’s the life! I do wonder about that “it’s a crime to work less than 40 hours” thing. It’s true but why? I understand the psychology of the humble brag (“I work 40 hours, it’s murder!”) and people are welcome to it, but why care if others aren’t enjoying the pain too? Perhaps it discredits their humble brag or perhaps it’s more that we’re bad team players for not helping to shoulder the impossible national/universal burden.

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