Microsoft’s Japanese arm recently trailed a new four-day work week, giving 2,300 of its employees Friday off, and it resulted in a 40% boost in productivity from its employees.
The strategy, dubbed working reform project aimed at improving the work-life balance of its employees, and was implemented for one month to measure any noticeable change in the culture & productivity of its employees.
The results were arguably far greater than anyone could have expected, with a 39.9% reported increase in productivity after the implementation of a four-day workweek.
According to reports, much of the increase in productivity was attributed to the changing of meetings… With only four days to get everything done for the week, many meetings were cut, shortened or changed to virtual meetings instead of in-person. It seems as though with fewer days in the work-week, Microsoft employees were forced to re
The initiative also resulted in employees taking 25.4% fewer sick days during the month, a 23.1% reduction in electricity usage, as well as a 58.7% drop in pages printed for the month-long trial period.
According to a report from David Aaro, “Microsoft found that “when the company decreased hours of its workweek, productivity actually increased - a surprising result considering Japan is one of the most overworked and least productive workforces among G7 nations.”
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of Microsoft’s Japanese workers - 92.1%- said that they liked the new four-day workweek arrangement, and Microsoft has since said it would implement the program again next northern hemisphere summer, and potentially at more times throughout the year to increase staff engagement and morale.
Japan was more than likely picked for the trail due to the nature of Japanese work culture, where employees often report fatigue, drops in productivity and in some cases self-harm as a result of over-working themselves. Japan is infamous for having some of the world’s longest working hours, and according to a 2016 government survey, a quarter of Japanese companies required employees to clock up at least 80 hours of overtime per month. This became so much of a problem, that legislation was introduced mandating a maximum of 45 hours a month in overtime, according to the Telegraph.