A 4-day workweek at Microsoft Japan boosted employees' productivity by 40 percent

Humza

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

All of 2,300 employees working at Microsoft Japan had three-day weekends this past August, as part of the company's 'Work Life Choice Challenge.'

Japan, known to have some of the world's longest working hours, tends to feel the impact of overwork where people have coined the term 'karoshi,' a work culture phenomenon which translates to 'death by overwork.' In such an environment, a four-day workweek at Microsoft would probably have felt like a breath of fresh air.

Getting an extra day off every week made for improvements in several areas, including productivity and operational costs. Sales per employee, used to determine productivity, rose by 39.9 percent as compared to figures in August 2018, while remaining closed for an extra day reduced the firm's electricity costs by 23.1 percent and saw a 58.7 percent decline in paper printing.

Given that employees had only four days to work, meetings were capped at 30 minutes, while remote conferences were increased to eliminate commuting where possible. The experiment also incorporated self-development and family wellness schemes and received positive feedback by the majority of employees, 92.1 percent of whom liked the shorter workweek.

"Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot. It's necessary to have an environment that allows you to feel your purpose in life and make a greater impact at work. I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20 percent less working time," said Takuya Hirano, Microsoft Japan president and CEO.

The company plans to repeat its four-day workweek in Japan for August next year, though it remains to be seen if it expands the program to other months or regions.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Lots of companies are going to the 4x-10 work week and seeing BIG success. A couple have even started cutting back to a 30 hour work week with no loss of pay or benefits and seeing even bigger returns. Obviously these are more white collar jobs but it does go to prove a point that concentrated work yields far greater results that those companies that want 50+ hours per week from their employees ......
 

Humza

TechSpot Staff
Staff member
Who were the 7.9% who wanted to work an extra day, and why was almost 60% of printing happening on Fridays?!
I have a feeling it was the same overachieving group keeping the printers busy before the weekend.
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
I don't see how blue collar type "construction" work would benefit from a 4x10 hour week.
Sometimes, deadlines are what they are. White collar type jobs would probably be ok, but
most "get your hands dirty" jobs, couldn't do 10 hour days, without a risk to safety.
 

candle_86

TS Booster
I don't see how blue collar type "construction" work would benefit from a 4x10 hour week.
Sometimes, deadlines are what they are. White collar type jobs would probably be ok, but
most "get your hands dirty" jobs, couldn't do 10 hour days, without a risk to safety.
Sure they could, I worked in concrete out of high school and 10-12 hour days where not uncommon, deadlines to meet or the plumbers being late made a pour take longer
 

gamerk2

TS Evangelist
Lots of companies are going to the 4x-10 work week and seeing BIG success. A couple have even started cutting back to a 30 hour work week with no loss of pay or benefits and seeing even bigger returns. Obviously these are more white collar jobs but it does go to prove a point that concentrated work yields far greater results that those companies that want 50+ hours per week from their employees ......
4 10hr days are an option for some. I work a 9/80 schedule over the summer, and getting that every other Friday to recharge is a godsend.

Point being, getting days off occasionally increases productivity. This isn't new.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Surprise surprise! Giving your employees more time to themselves, rather than forcing them to work until their knuckle are bare, increases productivity. Who would have thunk it???
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
I don't see how blue collar type "construction" work would benefit from a 4x10 hour week.
Sometimes, deadlines are what they are. White collar type jobs would probably be ok, but
most "get your hands dirty" jobs, couldn't do 10 hour days, without a risk to safety.
I believe that physical labor jobs stand to gain the most. The body takes 72 hours of rest to synthesize muscle, 3 days exactly.
 

bluetooth fairy

TS Booster
There's lowered business activity in august in Japan either, I suppose. Therefore what they achieved in MS can't be extrapolated freely to other seasons.
 

brucek

TS Maniac
Being in the office is not necessarily the same thing as working, which is undoubtedly some of what was going on here.
 
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arrowflash

TS Booster
4-day work weeks should be the standard in all businesses. For me 2-day weekends are just not enough to return to work feeling refreshed, but 3 days just hits the spot.