Microsoft Implements 4-Day Work Week in Japan-Productivity Increases 40 Percent

Nowadays, more and more smaller companies are trying out a 4-day work week. And, Microsoft is one of them- a recent trial they made suggests that this model may work for big businesses as well.

This summer, in their quarters in Japan, the company implemented the Work Life Choice Challenge that closed down their offices every Friday in August and gave the employees an additional day off every week.

The results were quite promising.

Could 4-Day Work Week Become a Thing?

The trial showed that despite the fact that the time spent at work was reduced, the employees’ productivity elevated by around 40 percent, in comparison with the same period the previous year.

The managers also asked from the staff to reduce the time they dedicated to email responding and meetings. They proposed that the meetings should last longer than half an hour or so.

The employees were also encouraged to meet up by using a messaging app by Microsoft instead.

More than 90 percent of Microsoft’s employees in Japan stated that they were influenced by these new measures positively.

The company also benefitted in terms of electricity saving by closing their offices earlier every week.

Important Decision for Japanese Workers

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Some would say that this initiative is long overdue because Japan has been struggling for some time now with a culture of overwork.

This issue is so serious that they even have a term for it- karoshi or death by overwork caused from a stress-related disease or serious depression.

This problem got the international attention back in 2015 when a worker at Dentsu, a Japanese advertising giant, died by suicide on Christmas Day.

The staffer had worked excessive hours of overtime.

Only 2 years later, a reporter from a Japanese broadcaster died after working long hours. Unfortunately, the worker had clocked in 159 hours of overtime, just a month before her death.

So, companies have been looking for a solution to this severe problem- some companies have been offering employees more flexibility and the Japanese government has even launched a Premium Friday campaign. It motivates workers to leave early on last Friday every month.

What Is Microsoft’s Plan for the Future?

The company stated that they’ll make another trial in Japan later this year. And, they’ll also ask from employees to come up with measures that’ll help better their efficiency and work-life balance.

They’ll also ask from other companies to join the initiative.