Photo: Agliberto Lima/Public Photos

Portugal has seen a revolution in the workplace with the implementation of the four-day week. The experiment, conducted in 41 companies, shows that reducing the weekly working hours brought significant benefits to employees without compromising the financial health of companies.

According to the final report “Four-Day Week – Pilot Project” presented by economist Pedro Gomes, coordinator of the government program, and released on June 24 by the Institute of Employment and Professional Training (IEFP), there was a notable improvement in the mental health of workers. “The self-assessment of the mental and physical health of workers revealed significant increases in the ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ category among participants.

In mental health, the ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ category doubled from 15% to 30%, and in physical health it increased from 20% to 27%”, highlighted Gomes. In addition, an average increase of 11 minutes in sleep time was recorded and a decrease in exhaustion and negative mental health symptoms: the anxiety index decreased by 21%; fatigue by 23%; insomnia or sleep problems by 19%.

The data also shows that, despite there being no direct collection of financial information, “most administrators 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”, says the final report, also signed by Professor Rita Fontinha, associate of Strategic Human Resource Management at Henley Business School at the University of Reading.

Extensive benefits and future challenges

The positive impacts were not limited to the workplace. Satisfaction with leisure time and personal relationships also increased significantly. “Satisfaction with leisure time increased significantly, and workers reported greater satisfaction with several areas of their lives, including personal relationships, financial situation and current job. These benefits were observed in both men and women, but with a greater quantitative effect among women,” the report noted.

The experiment was so successful that 93% of employees at participating companies would like to see the four-day week continue. Only four companies decided to return to the traditional five-day model. This result led Prime Minister Luís Montenegro to consider adopting the four-day week in public administration, albeit with some reservations. “The question of whether we should do it in public administration is a good question. It is a question that I will not be able to answer right away, but I will also tell you that I do not rule out the possibility, perhaps with the maintenance of the weekly working hours”, Montenegro declared in Parliament.

Another highlight is the appreciation of the model by workers with lower salaries and qualifications, challenging the idea that this practice is only for a highly qualified elite. The marginal reduction in workers with a second job and the decrease in stress and burnout levels were notable, with 65% of participants saying they spent more time with their family.

Considerations on gender equality

Despite the promising results, the Minister of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security, Maria do Rosário Palma Ramalho, considers it “too early” to move towards a four-day week and warns of possible indirect effects of the model on gender equality. “We have a very traditional distribution of social roles in Portugal and, therefore, women continue to be the ones who have the most family responsibilities. Measures are needed to promote greater equality and not contribute to increasing these responsibilities in an unbalanced way for mothers,” said the minister.

The pilot project, which began in June 2023, involved several organizational changes at participating companies, such as reducing the length of meetings and creating work blocks to ensure that shorter working hours did not interfere with weekly deliveries. The four-day workday, known as 100-80-100 (100% salary, 80% time, 100% productivity), has shown that more rested employees work better and more creatively.

Next steps

With the completion of the pilot project, coordinator Pedro Gomes and his team plan to make a starter kit (or starter pack) for companies interested in testing the model. This material, which includes recorded sessions and other resources, will be made available from the last quarter of this year.

Furthermore, a possible partnership with the National Institute of Statistics (INE) is being studied to continue academic research “aiming at a more detailed and long-term analysis of the effects of the four-day week”. Despite the positive results, Gomes warns that the participating companies are not representative of the Portuguese market as a whole, so it is important to encourage different organizations to test this format, states the final report, “especially large companies”.

Main data of the pilot project


  • 41 participating companies
  • 12 districts represented
  • 56% of female leaders
  • Featured Consulting, Science and Technology Sectors
  • 52.5% of companies opted for 36-hour workweeks
  • 52.4% of companies will maintain the four-day week model
  • The participating companies evaluated the project positively, highlighting the professionalism of the team and the importance of the project in the context of labor relations in Portugal.


  • 332 workers in the experimental group
  • 160 workers in the control group
  • 67% female
  • 55% under 40 years old
  • 79% with higher education, master’s or doctorate
  • Reduction of working hours from 41.6 to 36.5 hours per week
  • Improvements in mental and physical health
  • Clear reduction in exhaustion and wear
  • Better work-life balance
  • 93% of workers want to continue with the new format

To read the full report, click here.
To see the project infographic, click here.


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