ByJohn Vibes / Truth Theory
Microsoft’s Japan offices recently tested out a four-day workweek and found that employees were both happier and more productive during the trial. They called the temporary experimental policy “Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019,” and it was in effect throughout the month of August.
In the experiment, Microsoft Japan’s 2,300 employees were given five Fridays in a row off work, without any changes being made to their pay.
In a statement discussing the experiment, Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano said that the company also promised to give employees roughly $1000 for a family summer vacation.
“Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot. I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20% less working time,” Hirano said, according to the Guardian.
Watch: Here are the stories we're keeping our eye on: the first transcripts from closed-door depositions in the impeachment inquiry were released and a 4-day workweek increased a company's productivity. More news at https://t.co/9FZYNDqhCG. pic.twitter.com/cCE3bQtopP
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Oddly enough, despite the fact that the employees were clocking fewer hours, more work ended up getting done. The statement noted that the workers were actually more productive, probably because they were much happier and could more easily focus on their work. There were also some additional benefits to the company, like a significant reduction in electricity costs and less printer paper being used.
The trial run was a success, but it was only temporary, and it is not clear if or when it will become an official policy.
“In the spirit of a growth mindset, we are always looking for new ways to innovate and leverage our own technology to improve the experience for our employees around the globe,” a Microsoft spokesman said.
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Last year, the New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian experimented with a similar policy. Their staff was significantly smaller, with only 240 employees, but the results were also very impressive.
A study published last year by the Harvard Business Review suggested that shorter workdays could also improve productivity. The research showed that when the workday is decreased from 8 hours to 6, workers ended up getting more done. Another 2018 study published by the Workforce Institute at Kronos, found that half of the full-time employees who were surveyed believed that they could get their job done in 5 hours or less each day.