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Microsoft Found Employees To Be 40% More Productive With A Four-Day Work Week

Most of us work eight hours per day, five days per week. Some of us even more than that. What I often hear from my friends and colleagues is that they wish the weekend was longer and that they hate going back to work on Mondays. Of course, no one loves working; maybe those lucky few who got to follow their dream job. But shouldn’t there already be a way to make employees happier, less tired, and, if possible, more productive?

Well, apparently, there is! Microsoft’s Japan offices decided to experiment with a four-day workweek and discovered that employees were happier and more productive during the trial. They called their temporary experimental policy “Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019”. It was in effect throughout August 2019.

In the test, Microsoft Japan’s 2,300 employees were given five Fridays in a row off work, without any changes made to their pay. Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano noted that the company also promised to give employees about $1000 for a family summer vacation.

Although the employees were clocking fewer hours, more work ended up getting done. The statement noted that the workers were, in fact, more productive, possibly because they were much more relaxed and could more easily focus on their work. There were some additional benefits to the company, such as a significant reduction in electricity costs as well as less printer paper being used.

The trial run was a success. However, it was only temporary, and it isn’t clear if or when it will become an official policy.

A four day work week might be a revolutionary idea, but that’s not the first time that it has been attempted. In 2018, the New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian experimented with a similar policy. They only had 240 employees, but the results were also awe-inspiring.

A study published in 2018 by the Harvard Business Review showed that shorter workdays could also improve productivity. The research demonstrated that when the workday is decreased from eight hours to six, workers ended up getting more done. Another study published by the Workforce Institute at Kronos in 2018, discovered that half of the full-time employees who were surveyed said that they could get their job done in five hours or less each day.

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