Future of Work

Microsoft Japan introduced a four day workweek and the benefits went far beyond a long weekend

Microsoft isn't the first to highlight the productivity benefits of a four day workweek.

Microsoft isn't the first to highlight the productivity benefits of a four day workweek. Image: REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Lisa Eadicicco
Technology Reporter, Business Insider
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Future of Work

  • A four day workweek trial in Microsoft subsidiary in Japan led to 40% boost in productivity.
  • The company said it also reduced the time spent in meetings by implementing a 30-minute limit and encouraging remote communication.
  • It also helped preserve electricity and office resources as well

An experiment that involved reducing the workweek by one day led to a 40% boost in productivity in a Microsoft subsidiary in Japan, the technology giant announced last week.

The trial was part of Microsoft's "Work-Life Choice Challenge," a summer project that examined work-life balance and aimed to help boost creativity and productivity by giving employees more flexible working hours.

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Microsoft Japan: four day workweek trial

Microsoft Japan closed its offices every Friday in August and found that labor productivity increased by 39.9% compared with August 2018, the company said. Full-time employees were given paid leave during the closures.

The company said it also reduced the time spent in meetings by implementing a 30-minute limit and encouraging remote communication.

Microsoft isn't the first to highlight the productivity benefits of a four day workweek. Andrew Barnes, the founder of a New Zealand estate-planning firm, Perpetual Garden, said he conducted a similar experiment and found that it benefited both employees and the company, according to CNBC. It has adopted the four day workweek permanently.

Studies have found there's demand for a shorter workweek. Last year, in a study of nearly 3,000 workers in eight countries by the Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace, most said their ideal workweek would be four days or less.

It's not just the employees who benefited from Microsoft's four day workweek experiment — Microsoft found that it helped preserve electricity and office resources as well. The number of pages printed decreased by 58.7%, while electricity consumption was down by 23.1% compared with August 2018, the company said.

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