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Microsoft Execs Discover Four-Day Week Boosts Productivity

A recent trial in Microsoft Japan found that productivity among workers was up 40% when they were given a three day weekend.

07.11.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Big Tech has a reputation for pushing their workers to the absolute limit — or, at the very least, filling their offices with enough games, free food and sleep pods for them to dedicate their lives to the company.

But Microsoft may be about to take a different approach. Executives at the Japan office recently trialled what it dubbed the sinister-sounding: “Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019.”

What it means, according to SoraNews24, is that each of the 2,300 employees were given every Friday off during August — granting them a three-day weekend, on top of the holiday allowances they already have.

As pretty much no one was there one day, Microsoft used 23.1% less electricity over the month. Employees also saw fewer reasons to take days off, with paid leave falling by 25.4%.

And somewhat unexpectedly, productivity went up by just under 40%. Workers became more focused, and meetings were slimmed down or made virtual to save time.

SoraNews24 places this experiment in the context of Japan having a poor work-life balance, with the country routinely scoring incredibly poorly on employee satisfaction rates.

In fact, levels of stress are so high in stress that people are effectively killed by chronic overwork. The concept is so well-ingrained in Japanese working culture that it even has its own word, Karoshi.

For now, Microsoft is simply considering trialling the three-day weekend month concept again — maybe next Autumn, or maybe more frequently.

But the tide is clearly turning on the idea that eight hours a day, five hours a week is the most productive way to work — or live one’s life.

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