Think about how you feel when a three-day weekend is looming on the horizon. The joy of not seeing your desk for 72 consecutive hours…it is a feeling of ecstasy when the clock starts to point the end of the work. Now imagine working 4 days a week and enjoy a weekend of three days every week. Isn’t it sounding great?
Well, the four day work week is not a new idea! Microsoft, as part of the 'Work-Life Choice Challenge' experiment, decided to adopt a new work methodology in Japan. The company closed its offices every Friday in August without changing the salary of its staff. Weeks with four days of work, where workers enjoyed the weekend and Friday off!
The results were unexpected, although employee work hours have decreased, productivity has increased by 39.9% compared to August 2018. Microsoft Japan estimates that productivity reasons include more focused employee work, limited meeting time i.e. 30 minutes, and increased use of online communication tools to replace face-to-face communication.
And in addition to improving productivity, the company’s operating costs also got reduced. During the experiment, Microsoft's electricity consumption in Japan decreased by 23.1%, and the printing volume decreased by 58.7%.
“Work for a short period of time, rest well, and learn a lot. It is necessary to create an environment that allows you to feel useful in life and produce greater in your work," said Hirano Hiroshi, president, and CEO of Microsoft Japan. Further, he adds, “I want employees to think and experience how to achieve the same results with a 20% reduction in working hours.”
The results of the trial are consistent with several other similar tests in recent years. The International Labor Organization said in a report last year that adopting a four-day work-week increases productivity.
Microsoft Japan says it wants to repeat the experiment later this year also. The intent is to survey her staff for other measures that would improve work-family balance and will also ask other Japanese companies to join this initiative.
Microsoft’s Japan branch is not the only company to run tests with a different time format. For example, various Australian companies also tried this test. There, employees often have a Wednesday off to break the work-week.
In Sweden, the country is also testing the effect of six-hour workdays instead of eight. The American company Amazon is also testing another week of work. For example, the company is currently testing with a 30-hour work-week. It's greener for traffic because there will be fewer cars on the road.
This initiative is taken just to prove that employees are happier working for a company that values their time and in return, they are ready to put extra effort during their day. Just like Microsoft, every company should consider this kind of work week that can create benefits for both employees and employers.