As a concept, a four-day-work week has existed for a while. In more recent times, we have seen the scattered implementation of this system too. However, that had always been restricted to smaller companies until Microsoft Japan (MSFT) gave it try and paved the way for other industry bigwigs to follow suit.
A programme called the “Work-Life Choice Challenge” was introduced at the firm earlier in 2019, which entailed shutting down offices every Friday in the month of August. This gave every Microsoft Japan employee an extra day off every week.
According to a report, the programme clocked in several positive results despite work hours coming down drastically. For instance, the productivity of the employees, which is measured on the basis of sales per employee, shot up by almost 40 percent compared to their performance at the same time in 2018.
A statement released by the company last week mentioned that, aside from cutting down work hours, the managers also asked the employees to reduce the time spent in responding to emails and attending meetings. They urged the staff to ensure that no meeting lasts more than 30 minutes and replace meetings with Microsoft’s online messaging app.
Interestingly, apart from benefitting the employees, the measure also helped Microsoft Japan save on inventory cost. Employees also took 25.4 per cent fewer days off during the month and used 23.1 per cent less electricity in the office which saved the company money.
In addition, 92.1 percent of employees said that they liked the four day workweek at the end of the trial.
Japan is known for its disciplined but fatal work culture. There are several reports in the recent past that point to death from stress-induced illnesses or depression. After noticing the rising incidence of such cases, several companies started looking for solutions. For instance, some firms introduced the concept of ‘Premium Friday’, as per which employees are allowed to clock in fewer work hours on the last Friday of every month.
Microsoft, too, has some more plans to allow its staff more flexibility. They are set to seek suggestions from their employees to come up with more ways to maintain work-life balance as well as improve their efficiency.
Due to its success this year, Microsoft is planning on repeating it again next summer and potentially at other times as well.