Amazon employeeMark Makela/Getty Images

Studies show that Americans work longer hours than many people in Europe and Japan, with many US employees spending 50 hours at work each week. 

Though the average number of hours spent at work each week is not going down significantly in the United States, some American companies and local governments are joining other parts of the world in testing whether a reduction in the number of weekly work hours can boost employee productivity. 

There is research to support these policy changes. Psychologist Anders Ericsson, who specializes in the science of peak performance, suggests that people can only concentrate on their work for four to five hours in one sitting. And a 2016 survey of nearly 2,000 office workers in the United Kingdom claims that the average employee works for roughly three hours during an eight-hour day. 

Most recently, a New Zealand company’s staff worked for 32 hours a week during March and April. The 240 employees were still paid for five days of work. 

Here are some of the most prominent experiments in shortening the workweeks: