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Microsoft Japan experimented with a four-day workweek as a part of a company-wide summer project.
Dubbed “Work-Life Choice Challenge,” the project aimed to increase employees’ productivity and creativity by providing more flexible working hours. Every Friday in August, Microsoft Japan closed its offices, giving employees one extra day off for five consecutive weeks. During this time, employees still received their regular paychecks.
Prior to this, Microsoft Japan CEO and President Takuya Hirano encouraged employees to get proper rest and gain more knowledge. In fact, the company had announced subsidizing around $900 for employees to vacation with their families or hone their skills.
Nonetheless, Hirano said that the scheme was also a challenge for the staff to achieve five days’ worth of work in just four days.
At the end of the project, Microsoft’s experiment proved to be a success. The company found that the four-day workweek boosted employee productivity by a staggering 39.9% compared to August of last year. In addition, 92% of employees who participated in the experiment were pleased with the scheme.
Apart from having happier and more productive workers, Microsoft also conserved office resources during the experiment. Electricity consumption was down by 23.1%, while paper used for printing was reduced by 58.7%.
Despite the positive results, Microsoft Japan stated that the experiment was just a pilot project and that the company has no concrete plans to officially implement a four-day workweek.
Encouraged by the results, however, Microsoft plans to hold another iteration of the experiment. This time, employees will not get paid days off but will be encouraged to take time off on their own.