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Ilya St
November 5 10:29

Experiment: Microsoft switched to a four-day workweek in its Japanese office

Experiment result: reduced work time increased productivity by 40%
The Japanese division of Microsoft has summed up the results of a one-month-long experiment which switched the office to a four-day workweek. The company noted that employee productivity has grown, writes CNBC, citing a statement made by the Microsoft’s Japanese branch.
The experiment took place in August as part of the Work Life Choice Challenge 2019 Summer program. Over the course of a month, 2,300 Microsoft employees had an extra day off per week on Fridays. The company did not reduce their salaries nor did they subtract days from the employees’ annual vacation time.
Microsoft’s Japanese affiliate acknowledged the experiment to be successful and stated that they intend to repeat it. The main results of the experiment:
  • Productivity, measured in sales per employee, increased by 39.99% as compared to August 2018.
  • To save time, the company revised its approach to working meetings: most discussions were changed to an online format, and meetings that weren’t were limited to 30 minutes in length.
  • Employees working four days a week were 25.4% less likely to days off.
  • Electricity consumption decreased by 23%, paper consumption - by 58%.
  • 92.1% of the participants in the experiment said they liked the four-day work week. However, some employees admitted that it was difficult for them to rest on Friday, knowing that the rest of the world continued working.
Overtime is one of the key problems of the business culture of Japan. According to authorities, in 2016, nearly a quarter of companies asked employees to work more than 80 hours of overtime month. Japan’s Ministry of Health and Labor reports that in 2017, a total of 190 people died as a result of being overworked; a portion of the deaths were reported as suicides.
As of April 2019, a law came into effect in Japan that limits overtime to a maximum of 45 hours per month and 360 hours per year. A business faces a fine of up to 300 thousand yen (approximately $2800) if it violates this law.