Norwegian island wants to cut traditional business hours and become ‘time-free’


Something for the weekend: Although many organisations are starting to embrace flexible and agile working arrangements, a small Norwegian island is going a step further by requesting to be a time-free zone, cutting traditional working hours in order to take advantage of the summer months.

Residents and employees living on Sommaroey, situated north of the Arctic Circle, are petitioning lawmakers in Norway to make the island time-free; this is in recognition of the midnight sun period, where the sun does not set, between 18 May and 26 July 2019.

Sommaroey locals want more flexibility in their working hours and school times, so that the island’s 350 residents can make the most of the long summer days, and reduce the stress of adhering to a strict, and in this case arbitrary, schedule. This would include scrapping traditional business hours and conventional timekeeping.

One of the drivers behind the request to be a time-free zone centres around employee wellbeing and enabling residents to take time to relax.

Kjell Ove Hveding, a resident of Sommaroey, told USA Today: “It’s a bit crazy, but at the same time, it is pretty serious. The idea is to chill out. I have seen people suffering from stress because they were pressed by time. We might get more flexibility to adjust to the daylight.”

Here at Employee Benefits, while we would all enjoy a bit more sunlight in our lives, we cannot imagine what it must be like for the sun not to set for 69 days straight. Working in a time-free zone, however, is an intriguing idea; we wonder whether our deadlines would still stand if, technically, time no longer existed…