The Independent today has an interesting piece about Sweden and its culture of working less. Opening by pointing out that the Swedes regard working long hours as a vice rather than a virtue, it goes on:
Swedish culture has taken a step further lately, by making moves towards a six-hour working day. In many of the organisations and companies that have made the change, they’ve noticed that their staff are happier, more productive and more creative, which proves the point that if the employees feel better, they’ll actually do better work. It’s a win-win situation.
Burned-out people cost companies and society time and money. They need healthcare, time off work, replacements have to be recruited and trained. Rested, enthusiastic staff members feel positive about their workplaces and can be passionate about their jobs.
In Sweden, they've figured out that you work to live, not the other way round. And by normalising a healthy attitude to work-life balance, rather than fetishising GDP and work for work's sake, they end up healthier and happier. Which surely is the point. The economy is supposed to work for us, not the other way round.