Life

Microsoft Japan had 40% productivity increase after 4-day work week experiment

November 7th, 2019

How many times do you think to yourself, “Man, I wish I had a three day weekend”? Chances are a lot. It’s a quite common thought to have. By the time Friday rolls around workers are exhausted and right as they begin to settle into the weekend flow, it is time to go back to their rigorous schedules.

Switching from a five-day workweek to a four-day workweek is something that has always been considered.

This past August, Microsoft Japan decided to put it to the test with an experiment called “Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019.”

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Their entire workforce, which consisted of about 2,300 employees, were given five Fridays off. No days were taken off their annual leave and pay was not reduced.

So… Did it work? Did employees grow to be lazy or did they work even harder?

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You most likely guessed correctly: they worked harder and it was a huge success overall. Productivity increased by 40 percent while there was also greater employee satisfaction. 92.1 percent of the employees said that they preferred the shorter week.

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“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,” Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano said.

It has been proven again and again that a shorter week is effective, yet we keep pushing it to the side. This is just another example. When Hirano says you can do the work in 20 percent less time, he is correct. We tend to associate the amount of time spent on a task with productivity, but that is not necessarily true. Time does not equal efficiency.

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In the late 18th century, it was normal to work 10-18 hours. That’s what people thought was necessary in order to get the job done. Soon, Robert Owen came along with the slogan, “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest,” and the rest was history.

Companies today are reconsidering what should be the new normal. Are we doing the five eight-hour days out of routine, or is there a better option out there? Can a shorter week truly benefit the company?

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The International Labour Organization reported this back in 2018:

“The best available empirical evidence shows that reducing full-time working hours can lead to numerous positive outcomes for workers, enterprises, and society as a whole: fewer occupational health problems and reduced health care costs; more and better jobs; better work-life balance; and more satisfied, motivated, productive employees resulting in more sustainable enterprises.”

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They continued, “In addition, shorter working hours can even make an important contribution to the “greening” of economies because the more we work, the greater our “carbon footprint”; so, cutting back on the number of days that we work – and therefore the number of times that we have to commute from our homes to our workplaces – is bound to have a positive impact on the environment as well.”

What do you think? Would you prefer a shorter week?

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Source: Bored Panda

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