Microsoft Japan runs a four-day workweek trial, makes surprising results

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Microsoft Japan is making headlines around the globe, following the company running a trial four-day workweek. A trial which enhanced both productivity and employee satisfaction.

While most people in the workforce can only dream of a three-day weekend, it seems Microsoft Japan might be onto something.

During the month of August, the company trialled a four-day workweek program as part of its Work-Life Choice Challenge.

The project allowed employees at its Tokyo headquarters to have Fridays off, and in exchange they were given “special paid leave.” Furthermore, Microsoft Japan also implemented a support program for its employees. This program included travel-related expenses and workshops, as part of the short-term trial.

Announcing the program in April, Microsoft Japan wrote that the aim of Work-Life Choice is to create an environment; where each employee can choose a diverse and flexible way of working according to the circumstances of their work and life.

Recently, the company said it made saw interesting results, pertaining to the project.

During this period, productivity increased by 40% and 92% of employees said they were happy with the program by the end of its run.

But these were not the only positive results the company noticed. During the period, the number of workdays was reduced by 25%. Electricity consumption was reduced by 23%, while the number of papers printed was reduced by 58%.

Currently, the program is making waves in Japan, as it has some of the longest working hours in the world and the lowest rates of productivity among G-7 nations. The G-7 (or Group of Seven) is an organisation made up of the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In 2018, a company in New Zealand named Perpetual Guardian also did a trial run on a four-day workweek. The company found similar results, claiming its staff were not only more productive but also more focused, happier, creative, and more punctual.

But why are people more productive and happier when working shorter hours?

Adam Grant, a psychologist from the Wharton School in Pennsylvania, says that he believes people are more focused, productive and loyal to companies who are willing to give them the flexibility to care about their lives outside of work.

Economist and historian Rutger Bregman, author of Utopia for Realists agrees. In fact, Bregman explains that Henry Ford discovered that if he changed the working week from 60 hours to 40 hours, his employees would become more productive because they were less tired in their spare time.

This, in turn, made them rest more effectively, taking full advantage of their time off and returning to work refreshed.

With both Microsoft Japan and Perpetual Guardian proving four-day workweeks truly work out, would you opt to work four days a week and enjoy a three-day weekend? Or do you feel it won’t work in the long run?

Share your views and opinions with us in the comment section below.

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One thought on “Microsoft Japan runs a four-day workweek trial, makes surprising results

  • 6th Nov 2019 at 6:59 am

    I think it Would work, for the same reasons, but also, the work needs to be not overshadowed by greed and insensitivity to other beings..not just human. When people have to ignore their true caring nature to male money, no amount of rest can help them.. this i truly believe. It is possible to make money and be loving to all that is at the same time. I believe this is what keeps employees happy in total. working in loving service of themselves and others.


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