Microsoft Japan Tests Four Day Week

Microsoft has tested out a four-day work week in its Japan offices and found as a result staff were happier as a result.

The announcement (in Japanese) also revealed that Microsoft staff in Japan also became significantly more productive as a result.

The trail took place in August, when Microsoft Japan experimented with a new project called Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Four day week

Microsoft Japan reported gave its entire 2,300 person workforce five Fridays off in a row without decreasing pay.

According to the Guardian, the shortened weeks led to more efficient meetings, happier workers, and boosted productivity by a staggering 40 percent, the company concluded at the end of the trial.

As part of the scheme, Microsoft Japan also planned to subsidise family holidays for staff up to the equivalent of $920.

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

Microsoft Japan also discovered a number of other conclusions from the scheme.

In addition to the increased productivity, staff took 25 percent less time off during the trial and electricity use was down 23 percent in the office with the additional day off per week.

Other benefits saw staff printing 59 percent fewer pages of paper during the trial. The vast majority of employees – 92 percent – said they liked the shorter week.

Global Study

Meanwhile a recent global research discovered that UK employees desire a three-day working week the most (surprise, surprise) and the UK is also one of the least content with the standard five-day work week.

This is according to research from The Workforce Institute at Kronos, which also found that nearly half (45 percent) of full-time employees say it should take less than five hours each day to do their job if they worked uninterrupted and 72 percent would work four days or less per week if their pay remained consistent.

The research found that nearly half of employees worldwide could do their jobs in 5 hours or less each day.

The survey was carried out with nearly 3,000 employees across eight countries conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated.

“The biggest takeaway of this research isn’t that we should move to a shorter workweek or that we need a time machine to get all our work done,” said Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos.

“It’s clear that employees want to work and do well by their employers, and many roles require people to be present or on call during specific hours to get the job done – such as teachers, nurses, retail associates, plant workers, delivery drivers, and nearly all customer-facing roles,” said Maroney. “Organisations must help their people eliminate distractions, inefficiencies, and administrative work to enable them to work at full capacity.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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