A Microsoft subsidiary in Japan recently underwent an experimental implementation of a 4-day workweek. The tech giant announced that the reduction in working days saw a huge 40 per cent boost in productivity over the experimental period.

The trial period was part of Microsoft’s “Work-life Choice Challenge”, a summer project that examined work-life balance and aimed to help boost creativity and productivity by providing employees with more flexible working hours over the traditional system.

The experiment involved closing Microsoft Japan’s offices every Friday in August. The result was that productivity actually increased by approximately 39.9 per cent compared to August 2018. The company also reported that full-time employees were given paid leave during the closures, meaning their salaries were not deducted due to the reduced working days.

The company said it also reduced the time spent in meetings by implementing a 30-minute limit and encouraging remote communication.

Microsoft is not the first company to conduct such experiments. Andrew Barnes, the founder of a New Zealand estate-planning firm, Perpetual Garden, told CNBC that he conducted a similar experiment with working days and found that the results benefitted both the company and its employees. Since then, the company has adopted the 4-day workweek permanently.

Further studies from around the world has established that there is plenty of demand for a shorter workweek. In 2018, a study of nearly 3,000 workers across eight countries was conducted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace. Their results show that the vast majority believed that their ideal workweek consisted of four days or less.

It’s not just the employees who benefited from Microsoft’s four-day workweek experiment – Microsoft found that it helped preserve electricity and office resources as well. The number of pages printed decreased by 58.7 per cent, while electricity consumption was down by 23.1 per cent compared with August 2018, the company said.


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