The Six Hour Work Day

In the US it is common to make fun of the French and their unions, their strikes and their 35 hour work weeks. It is easy to forget that the unions are indeed “the folks who brought you the weekend.” I was excited to read Sweden is introducing the six hour work day.

Our relationship to work is all wrong. It is by now a cliché to say that too many of us live to work instead of work to live. But it is true. We have left our children to be taken care of by iPads, and we have limited our own lives to an idea of “productivity” that has simply come up short. Too many of us are not happy.

My work takes two shapes. When I’m facilitating I’m “full-on” for days at a time. But it is the most rewarding work in the world. And it is only made possible by the times when I’m not facilitating. Working for myself I’m no longer bound by the constraints of office life. I am experimenting with ways to work less hours, get more done and live a richer life especially during those times when I’m not facilitating.

I am fully aware that the privilege of this conversation is only available to a certain professional class. But I know that there are plenty of people reading this blog who are caught in a hamster wheel of work that has lost meaning for them. I also know that the culture of the United States is caught under a spell of productivity that assumes a direct relationship between how many hours you put in and how much you get out from the work.

I don’t believe that equation holds true. I believe that working less actually leads to better work, to happier humans and therefore to a freer world.