Microsoft Japan tests four-day work week, sees 40 per cent jump in productivity

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on November 05, 2019

Representative image   -  LiudmylaSupynska

The shortened weeks led to more efficient meetings, happier workers

Microsoft Japan found that its employees were happier and significantly more productive after testing out a four-day work week in its offices, boosting productivity by as much as 40 per cent.

According to The Guardian, in the month of August, Microsoft Japan had experimented with a new project called Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019, granting its entire workforce of 2300 people five Fridays off in a row without decreasing pay.

“Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot,” said  Takuya Hirano, Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano, in a statement on Microsoft Japan’s website. “I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20 per cent less working time,” he said.

92 per cent of Microsoft Japan’s employees said they liked the shorter week.

The shortened weeks led to more efficient meetings, happier workers, and boosted productivity by a staggering 40 per cent, the company concluded at the end of the trial, the article said.

The project also discovered that employees took 25 per cent less time off during the trial and electricity use was down 23 per cent in the office with Friday not being working. Employees also printed 59 per cent fewer pages of paper during the trial.

As part of the program, the company had also planned to subsidise family vacations for employees up to 100,000 yen or $920, it added.

Microsoft Japan’s challenge was just a pilot project, the company told The Guardian in a statement, the article stated.

It also said that it’s unclear if these changes will be implemented in offices elsewhere or on a longer term basis. However, it plans to implement another iteration of the challenge this winter, it said.

This experiment joins the ranks of similar ones conducted elsewhere in the corporate world that point at the same trend.

For instance, in 2018, Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand trust management company, tried a four-day work week for a period of two months for its 240 staff members, The Guardian article said.

The employees also reported experiencing better work-life balance and improved focus in the office, with stress levels also decreasing by 7 per cent.

A 2018 survey of 3,000 employees by the Workforce Institute at Kronos found more than half of full-time workers thought they could do their job in five hours a day, the article stated.

It also cited a survey of 1500 workers and 600 human resources managers by HR consulting firm Robert Half wherein it found that 66 per cent of workers said that they wanted to work less than five days a week.

The Harvard Business Review’s experiment also shows that shorter work days, a decrease from the average 8-hour work day to a 6-hour work day, increased productivity.

Published on November 05, 2019

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