The Results of Portugal’s Four-Day Workweek Make One Thing Clear: Not All Companies Can Handle It

  • Portugal has completed its four-day workweek experiment, and the results are positive.

  • However, the exit rate of companies during the project has shown that the four-day model isn’t for everyone.

Results of Portugal's four-day workweek make one thing clear: Not all companies can handle it
No comments Twitter Flipboard E-mail

In recent years, several pilot tests have been conducted worldwide to determine the feasibility of the four-day workweek. Although they involved countries with different work cultures, such as the UK, Spain, Germany, Brazil, and South Africa, the results were similar.

Portugal passes the test with flying colors. The country ran its four-day workweek pilot project for much of 2023 and has just released the results. In summary, they’re like other experiments, such as the one in Spain, with good scores in employee satisfaction, health improvements, and business benefits.

“Although we did not directly collect financial data, most managers recorded an increase in revenues and profits in 2023 compared to the previous year, suggesting that the four-day week is not associated with negative financial performance,” Pedro Gomes and Rita Fontinha, the coordinators of the government's project, told the Portuguese outlet O Globo, according to a Google translation of their statements.

Improvements in employee well-being and health. After seeing the results of experiments in other countries, the results in the Portuguese pilot weren't exactly a surprise. 30% of participants believed their mental health improved during the pilot, and 27% thought that their physical health improved. Employees increased their sleep time by an average of 11 minutes and showed a decrease in burnout and stress. And 93% percent of employees would be willing to continue with this work model.

“Satisfaction with time off increased significantly, and employees reported greater satisfaction with several areas of their lives, including personal relationships, financial status, and current job. These benefits were observed in both men and women, but with a greater quantitative effect in women,” the report stated.

The companies also benefited. The Portuguese companies that participated in the project had to change their working methods by implementing new production processes. As a result, 72% of them saw an increase in profits, with an average increase of 12%, and 86% of them saw an increase in revenue.

Speaking to the Portuguese outlet Eco, Gomes explained that “the four-day week is thus proving to be a ‘lever’ for other changes within organizations, such as the adoption of technology and the improvement of teamwork practices,” pushing companies to optimize their processes to make them more efficient and productive with fewer resources.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all model. The Portuguese experiment underscores once again that the four-day workweek requires a level of commitment to organizational change that not all companies are able or willing to make.

Only 41 companies proceeded to the second phase of the experiment, and 55 companies decided not to continue after the preparation stage. Of the 41 companies that began in the project, only 21 completed the six-month trial cycle to test out the four-day workweek.

Once you try it, you don’t go back. Of the 21 companies that completed the pilot, 17 kept the same workday structure after the experiment ended. Only four have returned to the five-day workweek. However, they’ve kept some of the processes they learned during the pilot to optimize their operations.

“Of the companies that changed two or more processes, 92% kept the four-day week. On the other hand, among companies that made no changes, only 62% maintained this format. The most important thing is that it shows this is a legitimate form of management with many advantages. This does not mean it is for everyone, but more companies should try it,” Gomes, one of the pilot's coordinators, told Spanish outlet La Voz de Galicia.

Image | Unsplash (Rodrigo Curi, Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa)

Related | A Study Finds That Helping Your Coworkers Is Counterproductive, Unless They Specifically Ask

Home o Index