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In recent times, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns, the spotlight has shifted towards achieving a well-balanced work-life equilibrium. This shift is evident in the increasing number of individuals actively seeking ways to enhance the convenience of their work, with a noticeable inclination towards embracing remote work or exploring opportunities for 4-Day Workweeks.

Belgium’s Bold Move

Legislation for Flexibility

Belgium, in a groundbreaking move, passed legislation in November 2022, allowing employees to fulfill their weekly work hours in four days instead of the conventional five. Prime Minister Alex de Croo emphasized that the objective was to provide individuals and companies with increased flexibility in organizing their work schedules.

Embracing Change

A survey revealed that 56.5% of staff members have embraced this revised work schedule. Employees can either work 9.5 hours a day for a 38-hour workweek or choose ten hours a day to meet the 40-hour workweek requirement. Remarkably, 77.6% of those opting for the shorter workweek cited a desire for more personal time, while 36.5% aimed to reduce their workload, and 29.3% sought increased family time.

Read Also: Happiness in Life: A Journey Within

Iceland’s Pioneering Spirit

Iceland stands out as a pioneer, with nearly 90% of its workforce already operating on a 4-Day Workweeks. The country conducted one of the world’s largest and longest trials for this work practice from 2015 to 2019, revealing positive outcomes such as reduced worker stress and burnout, along with an improved life-work balance.

France: Voluntary Transition

France has witnessed a growing adoption of the 4-Day Workweeks by businesses, even though it is not legally mandated. This trend may be linked to the country’s establishment of a 35-hour workweek in law over two decades ago, which remains unchanged. The French Labour Ministry estimates that approximately 10,000 workers in the country already adhere to a four-day workweek.

Lithuania’s Unofficial Path

Although Lithuania has not officially implemented a 4-Day Workweeks, a 2021 legislation allows parents with young children to work only 32 hours a week, essentially creating conditions for a 4-Day Workweeks. A poll commissioned by the LRT public broadcaster found that 51% of respondents support the idea of a 4-Day Workweeks.

Denmark and the Netherlands: Short Workweeks

Denmark and the Netherlands, while not legally enforcing a 4-Day Workweeks, boast some of the shortest working weeks in Europe. The average workweek in the Netherlands is 29 hours, allowing workers to potentially work four days a week, depending on arrangements. Denmark, with a required 33 hours of work per week, offers the equivalent of just over eight hours a day for four days or a half day on Friday.

Experimentation in Germany, Spain, and Portugal

Germany, Spain, and Portugal are currently experimenting with the 4-Day Workweeks. Spain has agreed to a 32-hour workweek over three years, with workers receiving the same pay. Germany, with an average working week of 34.2 hours, is also in a trial period initiated by trade unions advocating for reduced working hours.

A survey indicates that 71% of German workers would like the option to work four days a week. Portugal initiated a six-month trial involving 39 corporate businesses to explore the impact of a 4-Day Workweek.

Pros & Cons of the 4-Day Workweeks


Adopting a 4-Day Workweeks brings numerous advantages. Companies participating in such pilots have reported increased productivity, reduced costs, and a higher number of job applicants. Additionally, a shorter workweek attracts better job candidates, improves employee retention, reduces absenteeism, contributes to gender equality, enhances diversity and inclusivity, and allows employees to upskill, boosting productivity by 25%.


While the advantages are substantial, it’s essential to recognize that the4-Day Workweeks may not be suitable for every industry or individual. Consideration of the specific needs and characteristics of each sector is crucial when contemplating such a shift.

European work-life balance, 4-Day Workweeks


As the global workforce continues to evolve, the adoption of a 4-Day Workweeks emerges as a viable solution for fostering a harmonious work-life balance. The European countries leading this change demonstrate the potential benefits and challenges associated with this paradigm shift.


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