The eight-hour working day has been entrenched in British culture since the days of the Industrial Revolution, when Robert Owen campaigned for "Eight hours, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest".
That might all be about to change, however, as the results of a new poll show major support among both workers and bosses for a Swedish style six-hour day.
The survey, by Crown Workplace Relocations, found that three-quarters (75%) of office workers in the UK are in favour of fewer working hours, rising to 78% in London. And three in five (60%) of bosses also said they would consider introducing a six-hour day. That figure rose to 75% in London and 88% in Glasgow. Tellingly, the figure for those working in HR was 100%.
Half of office workers believe they would be able to do just as much work in six hours as they can in eight, with nearly two thirds of 45-54 claiming they'd as productive.
Over a third of employees said it would improve their general wellbeing and 28% said it would help their relationships with their family and friends. Twenty-seven per cent said it would make them more creative and 16% said they would be less inclined to pull a sickie. Just 12% thought they would get less work done.
Around 40% of bosses thought their staff would be just as productive, rising to three-quarters in the legal sector. And the same number agreed that it would improve staff wellbeing. Interestingly, bosses were more inclined (40%) to say it would help their family life than workers. But 20% were concerned than staff would be less productive.
Barry Koolen, regional managing director at Crown Workplace Relocations, said: "The introduction of a six-hour working day has already been implemented by some employers in Britain with many reporting positive results - improved employee focus and productivity. Historically, the British eight-hour working day was created to encourage a work-life balance, and these findings suggest we may soon see a cultural shift towards a six-hour working day."