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Microsoft experiments with four-day work week

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Microsoft seems to have proven that less is more when it comes to worktime. The tech giant ran an experiment in Japan in August which included three-day weekends for employees. It turns out that the four-day work week boosted productivity dramatically and saved the company money on electricity and printing costs.

Microsoft Japan tries out a four-day work week

In a press release, Microsoft Japan revealed the “Work Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019, which involved four-day work weeks and three-day weekends. Employees were allowed to choose the way of working they wanted to follow as far as work-life balance. The company also challenged employees to “work a short time, take a rest and learn well.” Microsoft then took a survey and analyzed the results with the goal of helping corporate customers reform their “work styles.”

The company’s Japan headquarters closed on all the Fridays in August this year, and full-time employees received “special paid leave” for those days. Microsoft also supported the “‘practice’ of work-life choice promotion.” The company provided financial assistance for self-development-related expenses. Family travel expenses and “social contribution activities.”

Microsoft also focused on employee communication and reforming internal meetings and emails methods to get employees to work more efficiently in less time.

Results of the study

After analyzing the study of the four-day work week, Microsoft found a 25.4% decrease in the number of working days in August 2019 compared to August 2018. The number of pages printed this August was down 58.7% compared to August 2016. Electricity consumption was also down, marking a 23.1% decrease from the amount of electricity used in August 2016. It’s unclear why the company used two different past years for its comparisons.

Microsoft estimated a 39.9% year-over-year improvement in productivity based on sales per number of employees. The implementation rate of the 30-minute meeting grew 46% this year compared to August 2018, while implementation of remote conferences grew 21% in August compared to April to June 2019. The company also found that the four-day work week had a 97.1% change on the “life” part of employees’ work-life balance.

Microsoft Japan is planning another similar program for this winter called the Work Life Choice Challenge Winter 2019.

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