Image Source: theguardian

Sweden is moving to a six-hour working day in a bid to increase productivity and make people happier. Employers across the country including retirement homes, hospitals and car centres, are implementing the change. Toyota centres in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, made the switch 13 years ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits in that time.

“I think the 8-hour work day is not as effective as one would think. To stay focused on a specific work task for 8 hours is a huge challenge. In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the work day more endurable. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work,” Linus Feldt, CEO of Stockholm-based app developer Filimundus, told Adele Peters at Fast Company.

For employees around the world, a change like this would be a dream come true. To be able to balance work and personal life is a challenge we all face and it becomes almost like a struggle. India is being projected as the fasted growing economy. Our PM is touring country after country trying to get more foreign investment to generate more employment opportunities. As a workforce, we are expected to work hard if are to beat the competition. If you can’t do something well enough, there’s always someone else who can. People working in cities have already begun to feel the stress of long working hours, lengthy commutes and lack of time for personal pursuits.

A couple of decades ago, working six days a week was the norm, until the IT revolution brought several MNCs to India, ushering in the American work culture of the five-day work week. Though the fact remains, many private businesses in India still work six days a week, not to mention many of us don’t really have an end time. The way Indians views work is significantly different compared to the way they do in Europe or America.

While the notion of the six-hour work day might sound enticing, there are several reasons why it just wouldn’t work in India.

Quantity always trumps quality

In India, we love the concept of more, and the more time you spend at work, the more happier your manager would feel. It’s pretty simple. One gets paid to ‘be in office’ for nine hours (or more) and that always takes precedence over how much you can get done in those nine hours.

Working long is interpreted as working hard

When it’s appraisal or promotion time, it is almost a given that the guy who regularly stays back late is going to be the favoured candidate. After all, he is the hardest working guy and values his work above all else. No matter that he is extremely unorganized and highly unproductive, his extra hours immediately qualify him for that promotion.

Leaving on time is seen as leaving early

Indians are shy about leaving from work on time. If one is required to be in office from 9am to 6pm, almost no one leaves exactly at 6. It’s usually 6:30 or 7pm. That one odd day you actually leave at the time you’re supposed to, pat comes a question, “How come you’re leaving early today?” It’s almost like an unsaid rule to not leave on time.

You need to be ‘flexible’

No one likes to say no in India. That’s just plain rude. However, it is OK to say yes and then not deliver or miss a deadline, but saying NO; that’s sacrilege. Should you, at an interview, mention that you have a dance class you need to attend during evenings and can’t stay at work beyond 6:30pm, you will probably be the last candidate your prospective employer will look at. We want everyone to be flexible. Will you be able to stay back late? Yes, sir. Can you log in on weekends? Of course, sir.

Health? Personal life? Hobbies? What’s that?

Let’s face it. A majority of us work for the money, to pay the rent, and to put food on the table. Our job is not remotely the source of our satisfaction, let alone happiness. But the image you need to project is that your job is the best thing that’s happening in your life and you are willing to stretch yourself to any length for it. Anything else that would bring you happiness like maybe learning yoga or going on a vacation with your family is not considered important. Hence you need to be spending as much time as possible in the office. Because it’s all about loving your job.

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