Tokyo: Working four days a week seems too good to be true, right? But recently, Microsoft Japan tested a four-day workweek and the results were just amazing in terms of employee productivity.
The company recorded an almost 40% jump in productivity levels after cutting its work hours as part of a wider project to promote a healthier work-life balance.
The trial started in August this year where the company instituted a 4-day work week for its entire workforce and named the project “Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019”. Around 2300 employees were given 5 Fridays off, with no reduction in salary and no days taken out of their annual leave.
The company hoped that the employees would give their best during the shortened work-week and then return to work Monday feeling more refreshed. And the idea really worked!
Over that period, the firm saw productivity, as measured by sales per employee, rise 39.9% compared with August 2018.
Japan is notorious for having some of the world’s longest working hours. A 2016 government study found that almost a quarter of Japanese companies require employees to work more than 80 hours of overtime a month. Japanese even have the term “karoshi,” which translates to “death by overwork.”
Maybe this trial will reduce Japan’s culture of overwork.
Still a relatively new concept, however, there are some companies offering four-day workweeks to entice workers seeking a better work-life balance. And now with the success of Japan’s experiment, maybe more companies would give it a shot.