Do fewer working hours boost a company's overall productivity? A recent study out of the United Kingdom suggests the four-day workweek model benefits businesses and employees alike.

One year after 61 U.K. companies opted to participate in a four-day week pilot study, 89% of the companies continued to keep the structure in place.

More efficiency, happier employees and lower turnover rates are among the positive results found by the study, announced this week.

The 2022 study, conducted by the think tank Autonomy alongside the 4-Day Week Campaign and 4-Day Week Global, began as a six-month trial that has extended to the one-year mark and, in some cases, made permanent.

Forgoing the standard five-day, 40-hour workweek model, the participating organizations agreed to complete 100% of the usual workload in 80% of the time worked, shortening the workweek to 32 hours -- with no reduction of pay.

After one year, 51% of the companies have decided to implement the four-day workweek permanently and 89% have decided to continue the structure through the year.

In a follow-up survey with the participating companies' managers and CEOs, 100% reported that the four-day week had a "positive" or "very positive" impact on their organization, according to the study.

When researchers asked what the four-day structure had changed, 82% of surveyed companies reported positive impacts on staff well-being. 50% saw positive effects on reducing staff turnover and 32% said the policy had noticeably improved their recruitment, the study reports.

In a separate follow-up survey with the staff members of the participating companies, the benefits of the four-day workweek were felt both in and out of the office.

"Improvements in physical and mental health, work-life balance and general life satisfaction, as well as reductions in burnout, found at the end of the original pilot have all been maintained one year on," researchers said.

Looking to the future, a recent poll commissioned by the U.K. 4-Day Week Campaign found that 58% of the public expects the four-day workweek to be the standard way of working by 2030, according to the study.

Internationally, the study notes that the four-day workweek has become a key demand in some trade union negotiations in countries such as the United States, Germany and Italy.

Spain, Iceland and South Africa are among the nations that have implemented a trial of the four-day workweek for select companies and workers.

In November 2023, Belgium imposed a law that requires employers to offer full-time workers the right to request a four-day workweek.

At the state level in the U.S., lawmakers in Massachusetts introduced a bill in April 2023 that would provide employers with a tax credit if they shift at least 15 workers to four days a week without cutting their pay.

In California, a lawmaker re-introduced his 32-hour Workweek Act to Congress in March 2023, which would set the standard workweek at 32 hours.

At the time, Rep. Mark Takano said the act would be "a significant change which will increase the happiness of humankind. That's a very big statement. But it was a big deal 100 years ago when we gave people the weekend by passing the Fair Labor Standards Act."

Takano initially introduced the legislation to Congress in 2021.

While a 4-day workweek has proven to be a success for some companies, would the shortened model translate to all industries? Eric Loomis, professor and labor historian at the University of Rhode Island, told ABC News in June 2023 that the policy has faced difficulty spreading from white-collar professions to low-wage ones.

"I can see in an office getting a job done in 32 hours instead of 40 hours," Loomis told ABC News. "If you're a ticket taker at a theater or you're wearing a costume at Disney World, you need to be there."

The prospect of federal legislation enshrining a four-day workweek standard, meanwhile, is highly unlikely, Loomis added. "The U.S. hasn't passed significant pro-labor legislation that's in any way comprehensive in almost 90 years," he said.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 1, 2024.