If you thought that the United States was one of the leading nations in the area of flexible work schedules, think again. Many other countries are quickly adopting workplace flexibility as the norm and are even surpassing the U.S. in terms of the flex that their workers enjoy.

Case in point: in the Knote.com article,Why Germans Work Fewer Hours But Produce More: A Study in Culture, writer Eryn Paul discovered that Germany has some of the best work-life balance in the world—and it has nothing to do with combining personal life with professional life. In fact, the secret is keeping them totally separate.

Germans work super hard. They are straight to the point and focused to the point that Facebook is not allowed at work, nor is personal email. Their private lives never seep into their professional workday. That’s why, on average, Germans work only 35 hours a week—and they are more productive than those working longer hours. (They also receive about 24 paid vacation days.) And if that weren’t enough, the German government is considering a ban on work-related emails after 6:00 pm!

The perks don’t end there. Germany has some of the best parental protection policies in the world. Parents who have worked for 12 months are eligible for Elternzeit benefits, some of which include up to three years of unpaid leave, and must be offered full-time employment at the end of their leave. And the state will pay up to 67 percent of the employee’s salary for 14 months—and the benefits apply to same-sex couples as well.

Companies throughout the world are adopting flexible work policies—and seeing the payoff. Thinkprogress.org published the article,The 32-Hour Workweek That’s Grown One Company By 204 Percent, which describes how Cristian Rennella, co-founder of Latin American search engine elMejorTrato.com, adopted a compressed workweek schedule for himself and his employees. Despite having Fridays off for family and personal time, the Argentina-based company continued to grow—to the tune of an annual revenue of 204 percent.

While it might seem that getting more work done in a shorter amount of time wouldn’t work, it actually makes employees work smarter. Instead of scheduling doctor’s appointments or cruising Facebook, employees exhibit laser-like focus in order to get their work done in 32 hours a week.

Rennella also discovered that by offering work flexibility, he gained even more benefits. Not only does he have a happier workforce, there is less turnover, which means that he saves money by not having to hire and train new employees to replace exiting ones. On top of that, he’s able to lure the best and brightest in the industry with a competitive salary—and the promise of a four-day workweek.

And as studies have shown time and time again, when employees are happy, they are more productive, loyal, and are invested enough that they work hard to help their companies grow, all the while enjoying the work-life balance that all employees want and deserve.

photo credit: thinkstockphotos.com