A 4-Day Workweek Experiment, Noticed A 40% Increase In Productivity

Microsoft Japan took on an experiment, called the “Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019” in which they trialled the 4-day work week for their entire workforce.
Around 2300 employees were given five Fridays off with no reduction in salary and no days taken off of their annual leave. Naturally, the experiment proved to be a huge success with the increased productivity of almost 40 per cent and greater employee satisfaction (92.1 per cent of employees reported that they liked the shorter week). “Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot. It’s necessary to have an environment that allows you to feel your purpose in life and make a greater impact at work. I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20 per cent less working time,” said Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano. The 5-day workweek is deeply entrenched into our work culture globally, although studies keep proving over and over again that they’re not as efficient as shorter workweeks. In the late 18th century, working 10-16 hours was considered normal, as factories “needed” to be run 24/7. It was only until Welsh activist and advocate for shorter workdays Robert Owen came up with the slogan “Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.” Today, no one bats an eye for the 8-hours a day, 5 days a week job it is the new “normal.” However, more and more companies and scientists are reconsidering what is normal, including Microsoft Japan. As the International Labour Organization back in 2018 reported: “The best available empirical evidence shows that reducing full-time working hours can lead to numerous positive outcomes for workers, enterprises, and society as a whole: fewer occupational health problems and reduced health care costs; more and better jobs; better work-life balance; and more satisfied, motivated, productive employees resulting in more sustainable enterprises. In addition, shorter working hours can even make an important contribution to the “greening” of economies because the more we work, the greater our “carbon footprint”; so, cutting back on the number of days that we work and therefore the number of times that we have to commute from our homes to our workplaces is bound to have a positive impact on the environment as well.”To fit into the 4-day workweek, many meetings in Microsoft Japan were shortened, conducted remotely or cut altogether. Not only did the 3-day weekend trial result in a 39.9 per cent increase in productivity, but employees took 25.4 per cent less time off, electricity use was cut down by 23.1 per cent and 58.7 per cent fewer pages were printed. This means only one thing not only the long weekends are better for employees and their wellbeing, but it’s also better for the environment itself, as fewer resources are being used.