The report argues that during the six months in which the 61 studied organisations reduced their employees' working hours by 20 percent, without a salary reduction, sick leave decreased by 65 percent and employee departures to other companies by 57 percent.

The research also points out that 79 percent of employees indicated that their 'burnout' (exhaustion) was reduced and 39 percent said that their stress levels decreased.

The companies that took part in the programme, promoted by the pressure group "4 Day's a Week Campaign", recorded an average increase of 1.4 percent in their revenues over the period same period of the previous year, states the report, led by Cambridge sociologist Brendan Burchell.

"Before this test, many doubted that we would see an increase in productivity to compensate for the reduction in working time, but that is exactly what we saw", stressed the sociologist.

"Many employees were more than willing to implement improvements on their own. Long meetings with many people were reduced or eliminated altogether. Workers were much less inclined to waste time," added Brendan Burchell.

Portuguese example

In Portugal, of the 90 companies that expressed interest in joining the four-day work week, around 30 formalised the decision to join the pilot project, revealed the Secretary of State for Labour, Miguel Fontes.

"Our goal was to have a number of no less than 30 and that number we already have, most likely we will even surpass that threshold", added Miguel Fontes, stressing that "many companies are still considering" the decision.

At the beginning of the month, the Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, told Negócios and Antena1 that companies interested in joining the four-day workweek project are from various sectors, especially industry, commerce, information and communication, with geographic variety and different dimensions.

The pilot program consists of assessing the implementation of the four-day week, with the corresponding reduction in the number of working hours, without reducing remuneration, and is aimed at employers and their workers who voluntarily wish to join.

Entities that enrol in the pilot program are evaluated before, during and after the programme, using indicators relating to the company, namely productivity and intermediate costs, and to workers, including health and well-being, using a methodology to be defined by the coordinating team.

The coordinator of the four-day week pilot project, Pedro Gomes, professor at Birkbeck, University of London, argued at the end of October that the four-day week still has “a very long way” to go until it is implemented in Portugal , but that “it is a first step on a journey that will take many years to complete”.