4-Day workweek boosted employees’ productivity by 40%, Microsoft trial shows

5 November 2019, 15:21 | Updated: 5 November 2019, 15:25

Microsoft has tested a 4-Day workweek in Japan
Microsoft has tested a 4-Day workweek in Japan. Picture: Getty Images
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

Microsoft gave employees a four-day work this year.

For those of us who’d like to work less and relax more, it’s good news because new evidence suggests four days at the office would benefit everyone.

A trial by tech giants Microsoft took away one working day from employees in its Japanese offices, giving them a three day weekend.

Their Offices were closed every Friday of August 2019 and gave full-time staff "special leave", which was paid.

The goal of the “Work Life Choice Challenge” was to encourage an increase in productivity and creativity while also urging staff to cut down on the time they spent in meetings and responding to emails.

Microsoft employees are happier with four day weeks
Microsoft employees are happier with four day weeks. Picture: Getty Images

They suggested meetings should last 30 minutes at most, while also advising workers should communicate using an online messaging app instead of conferences.

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And while you might expect less work to get done, labour productivity, which was measured by sales per employee, actually went up 40% compared to August 2018.

According to a statement released by the company, happiness in the company also rose, with more than 90% of Microsoft’s 2,280 employees in Japan saying they’d been impacted by the change.

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It was said that employees were able to work more efficiently and pack more into their 32-hour week by conducting more remote conference calls.

Not only that, but by shutting down earlier each week, the company was also able to save on other resources such as electricity and printing costs.

This comes after a New Zealand company hit the headlines last year for test-driving a four-day workweek.

Financial services firm ‘Perpetual Guardian’ conducted a pilot program in 2018 in which all 240 employees worked four days for the same pay as five during the months of April and March.

After employee productivity increased and employees reported a 24% improvement in work-life balance, the company actually made the shorter workweek a permanent option for its employees.