Should the U.S. embrace a 30 hour work week?

“The 40 hour work week for a full-time employee has been trimmed to 30 hours at some Swedish firms, and studies have found that the result is more productivity and better morale,” reports CNN.

“The eight-hour work day is not as effective as one would think,” Linus Feldt, CEO of Filimundus, an app developer based in the capital city of Stockholm, told Fast Company. “To stay focused on a specific work task for eight 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.”

Today’s Question: Should the U.S. embrace a 40 hour work week?

  • PaulJ

    It seems like they are suggesting 5 days @ 6 hours per day. Does that figure to 33% more commuting (math:( )?

    • Isaiah Schultz

      Is this sarcasm? I am not seeing how any of this relates to commuting…

      • PaulJ

        Imagine there is 120 hours of work to do. At 6 hours per day it would take 20 days, at 8 hours per day it would take 15 days. I think (but am not sure) that means five more trips to perform the same amount of work and 5/15 = 33% which would make a much bigger carbon footprint.

        • Isaiah Schultz

          Ahhh, now I see where you are going with it. I think the argument for the “30-hour work week” philosophy is that 8 hours of work is not actually getting done in an 8-hour work day. It’s too long for focus to be maintained constantly. So people break up their day with distractions to make it more bearable. And with all those distractions/context-switches, we are maybe only getting 6 hours of quality work done anyway. And in the process, that’s 2 potential hours taken away from personal/family time. I think that’s what’s meant here.

          Also, this probably only applies to “desk jobs”. Construction work and other contracting work may not be applicable for this argument.

          • PaulJ

            At UPS they work 4 hour days so that loaders can keep up a faster pace for the entire shift. So, the 33% figure is probably high, but I doubt the faster pace compensates fully for the reduced hours.

        • John Dilligaf

          Yes, your math works. What’s being suggested is that we could get the same work done in 6 hours that is currently being done in 8 hours. That may be true for some jobs, but it certainly isn’t for jobs like a cashier, or staff at a restaurant, where you have to be there when the customers come.

  • BlueMN

    We already have a 40 hour work week. Did it change when I wasn’t looking?

    • Isaiah Schultz

      Yeah I agree, the wording in this article is strange and unclear.

    • Yanotha Twangai

      We’re supposed to have a 40 hour work week, and it used to be that one wage earner could support a family on that. Now, not so much.

  • Gary F

    Whoever has been writing the topic headlines lately must have switched to decaf.

    You mean we should embrace the 40 hour work week? I know many that put in way more than 40 hours per week.

    Are they suggesting people work 30 and get paid the same amount at 40? That won’t work.

  • Show me the money!!!!

    Sounds great to me but I need still need a hourly pay increase…The Reality is right now We Humans living in the United States of America cannot survive on what we make working 40 hours a week. So do us all a favor and pay us more by the hour!!! Then we can all worry about cutting hours later.

  • Judy

    I’m all for a 30 hour week as long I still get paid at the 40 hour rate. I definitely see wasted production time at work – for example I read this article and posted a comment while at work.

  • Juls

    Yes, yes and yes! It’s not even an option now. If you requested it your boss would look at you like you’ve lost your mind and say, well then find another job. 40 hours a week (or more) doesn’t leave enough time for family, and one’s personal interests.

  • DoubtingTom

    Our world economy is slowing moving to a model where businesses hire contractors instead of employees. At the same time- in the US – the ACA is changing the idea that employer-based/provided health care is the norm. The result is the erosion of a necessary employee-employer relationship. This is all for the good for both employees and US employers. It means employees can be as flexible with their schedules as they like. It means employers have more flexibility making organization changes. To support this model the US needs to move to single payer type healthcare and provide better education and training opportunities to the workforce. The question then would be strengthening minimum wage standards and deciding when OT pay should be required. New and better technology should allow us as a society to work less- so we should expect the 40 hour work week to decrease in the future.