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Microsoft Implements 4-Day Work Week and Productivity Increases by 40%

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This summer, workers at the Microsoft office in Japan were part of an enviable experiment: a four day work week. And the results, unsurprisingly, are great. 

The Work Life Choice Challenge experiment was carried out in Japan—a country that has long faced a ‘death by overwork’ problem—and consisted of closing the Microsoft offices every Friday during the month of August to give employees an additional day off every week.

The trial aimed to help boost creativity and productivity by giving employees more flexible working hours. At the end of the test, they discovered that, although employees ended up working fewer hours, productivity increased by 40%, when compared to the previous year’s data.

In addition to working fewer hours, the workers’ supervisors asked them not to spend too much time in meetings (less than 30 minutes) or answering emails, so that they could work even fewer hours.

As a result of the experiment, in addition to increasing productivity, the company was also able to reduce the consumption of other resources. For example, the number of pages printed by employees decreased by 58.7%, while electricity consumption decreased by 23.1%.

Like Japan, the U.S. has gained a reputation for being one of the most overworked countries in the developed world, experiencing more stress-related illnesses than even their European and Japanese counterparts.

Based on the results of “Work Life Choice Challenge 2019 Summer”, Microsoft Japan will implement “Work Life Choice Challenge 2019 Winter” this winter.

Alexandra Tirado Oropeza is a Venezuelan journalist covering politics, immigration, entertainment and social justice. She moved to the U.S. in 2014 to pursue a Writing degree at The University of Tampa, and after graduating, she moved to Los Angeles where she works in broadcast and as a freelance writer. She’s passionate about equality, freedom of speech, art and dogs.