Microsoft Tested a 4-Day Workweek in Japan — and Productivity Went Up by 40 Percent

Based on the results, Microsoft will launch a similar trial this winter

people working in office
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A Microsoft trial that gave employees a four-day work week proved beneficial not just to employees, but to the company, too.

The tech giant said in a statement that it introduced the “Work Life Choice Challenge” this past August in its Japanese offices, in which employees worked just four days each week.

The goal was to encourage employees to up their productivity and creativity, and so Microsoft closed the offices on every Friday of the month, giving full-time staffers paid leave.

The results proved fruitful: labor productivity, which was measured by sales per employee, was up 39.9 percent as compared to August 2018.

The trial also reworked the way employees communicated, and focused on reducing the amount of time spent in meetings by using Microsoft’s collaboration tool Microsoft Teams instead.

According to the statement, the employee’s happiness was also boosted, with more than 90 percent saying they’d been impacted by the adjustments.

Based on the results, Microsoft will run a similar trial in Japan this winter.

They’re not the first company to give a four-day week, three-day weekend a try.

A New Zealand company called Perpetual Guardian conducted a pilot program experiment in 2018 in which all 240 employees worked four days for the same pay as five during the months of April and March.

Two researchers hired by the firm found that employee productivity increased with the short work week, and that employees reported a 24 percent improvement in work-life balance, The New York Times reported.

Supervisors also reportedly said that their staffers were more creative, had better attendance, were more punctual and didn’t leave early or take long breaks. Perpetual Guardian has since adopted the policy full time, according to its website.

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