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Productivity up 40% at Microsoft Japan after 4-day work week trial

A four-day work week trial at Microsoft Japan resulted on happier employees and a forty per cent boost in productivity.

Microsoft Japan’s productivity jumped 40% during the trial. (Photo: Daily Mail)

The experimental project, dubbed “Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019″, saw the company’s 2,300 employees get each Friday off in August without their pay being affected. The results were that productivity increased forty per cent when compared to the previous month.

Also, the trial required employees to reduce the number of meetings, and instead use an online messaging application, and to keep face-to-face meetings under 30 minutes.  Not only were such get-togethers found to be more efficient, the company was able to conserve on some utilities, primarily electricity.

Microsoft Japan’s 2,300 employees got five consecutive Fridays off in August.
(Photo: South China Morning Post)

“I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20% less working time,” said Microsoft Japan’s president and CEO Takuya Hirano in a statement.

The trial also found that employees took 25 per cent less time off electricity and the number of pages printed was reduced by more than 50 per cent.

Microsoft said it will commence another trial by year’s end, this time asking workers to suggest measures they think will improve efficiency and promote better work-life balance.

“I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20% less working time.”

– Microsoft Japan’s president and CEO Takuya Hirano

Japan has some of the longest monthly working hours in the world with many companies requiring staff to work numerous overtime hours. The problem is so severe that people dying from overwork, or “karoshi” to the Japanese, is not uncommon.

In July 2013, the death of Miwa Sado shone a light on the stark reality of overwork in Japan. Sado, who worked at a Japanese news network, died of heart failure after clocking almost 160 hours of overtime in one month.  The 31-year-old had only taken just two days off the previous month.