Spain cannot become Norway, Norway cannot become Spain- at least easily


It goes without saying that Norway would be just a hazardous choice, one could have picked UK, Germany or France, except for the fact that Spaniards enjoy a maximum of 15 hours of sunlight in summer and 9 in winter, while Norweigan people have 7-8 hours during hottest months of the year and about 5 in cold seasons. This makes people of one and the other country develop different lifestyles. Human beings tend to adapt themselves to their surrounding environment. This said Spain should turn its clocks back taking the time zone of UK, France, Germany, Portugal and the rest of their European counterparts.  This time gap makes no sense considering that Spain stands at the same longitudinal range of Greenwich Mean Times that rules dayly life of the City of London and main financial places in Europe. This measure would push Spanish competitivity and help families to reconcile work and private life, according to a couple of articles recently published by anglosaxon media New York Times and CNN.

Some say this Spanish habit of extending daytime and doing things a bit later than their European neighbours comes from the Civil War. Novels at the beginning of twentieth century pictured Madrid as a city where people took dinner at the same hours Londoners or Parisian did, but after Civil War nothing was the same again, not even working hours. However the change of national  schedule is due to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco who moved the clocks forward to align with Germany of allied Hitler.

Ignacio Buqueras is a Spanish economist and enterpreuner who has been fighting for years to return Spain’s workers to a more rational and flexible schedule as well as in line with European pace. From his position as ipresident of the Association for the Rationalization of Spanish Working Hours, he urges to change schedule in order to increase employees quality of life and thus their competitivity. By year 2006 Mr. Buqueras was saying that “rationalise working hours would contribute to solve relevant difficulties of Spanish companies to contact those European countries with which they have a commercial relationship.” He also commented then that there was no an exact date for the adaptation, that a relevant change could have occur by 2009 or 2010. Then the crisis came… Now when big macroeconomic figures seem to recover and everybody talk about the need of Spain’s improving competitivity, even more than it has already improved- outperforming many European countries- the Spanish government is studying a proposal to rationalise national schedule with the aim of facilitating competitivy and work- family balance as Mr Buqueras long asked.

This proposal would supposedly include a comprehensive change in all Spaniards’ daily routine, not only working hours, but also schools, shopping centres, TV programs and so on. It should also consider the fact that Spain turns clock backs one hour in winter time, because northerneast regions could see sunset at 4.30 P.M as if they were in Scotland for example….. Most of Spanish people would be pleased to change working hours, having lunch in 45 minutes instead of established two long hours in full time jobs, leaving the office at 5 o’ clock like the rest of European workers. But will Spanish companies and their heads rid of these norms so easily? Many big, medium and small sized companies have long started work-family life reconciling programs but the reality is that Spanish workers do not leave the job before 7 P.M. suffering very prolonged working hours, and of course with no time to sleep a siesta or nap. Afterwards, each Spaniard decide what to do to relax, don’t they? The siesta awaits for the weekend or for retired people while watching the soup opera at TV… A brief rest is always a good medicine for body and mind as recommended by health professionals , in Spain or in Norway.

About the Author

Julia Pastor
Julia Pastor has broad experience in business writing for Consejeros Media Group at Consejeros, Consenso del Mercado and The Corner. Previously, she worked for the financial news agency GBA and contributed to El País Business. She holds a Master's in Financial Journalism and a degree in English from the Complutense University in Madrid.

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