Microsoft’s Japan offices tested out four-day workweeks for a month and the results were unexpectedly positive.
In the summer of 2019, Microsoft launched the ‘Work-Life Choice Challenge’ for the month of August where they gave all of their 2300 employees a 4-day workweek with four consecutive Fridays off without pay cut, reported The Guardian.
A statement published on Microsoft Japan’s website said that as a result of the experiment, productivity shot up by 40% while there was a 25% decrease in time taken off.
Takuya Hirano, Microsoft Japan president and CEO in a statement to Microsoft Japan’s website.“Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot.”
“I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20% less working time,” Hirano said in the statement.
The initiative also required that the number of meetings be reduced by using a messaging app instead and meetings not exceed 30 minutes. This resulted in more efficient meetings, read the statement.
Moreover, there was also a 23% reduction in electricity consumption at the offices.
This initiative was welcomed by the employees with over 90% of them reporting that they liked it in the review.
Although this was only a pilot project, Microsoft plans to reiterate the challenge in the winter.
As of now, it is unclear if the plan has any scope for long term implementation or introduction in other companies.
It is also interesting that such a plan was introduced by Microsoft in Japan, a country known for its severe work ethic. It is perhaps the culture of overworking to the point of Karoshi (death by overworking), a common phenomenon and a major issue for the government, that prompted the company to carry out their test run in the country.
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