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Microsoft experimented with a 4-day work week in its Japan office, and productivity jumped by 40%

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  • Microsoft found that implementing a four-day work week led to a 40% boost in productivity, the company announced as part of the results of its “Work Life Choice Challenge 2019 Summer” project.
  • The project examined work-life balance and its impact on productivity and creativity.
  • As part of the experiment, Microsoft’s Japan office closed every Friday in August, resulting in higher productivity compared to August 2018.

The company also reduced the amount of time spent in meetings as part of the project by implementing a 30-minute time limit for meetings and encouraging remote communication.

The trial was part of Microsoft’s “Work Life Choice Challenge 2019 Summer,” a project that examined work-life balance and aimed to help boost creativity and productivity by giving employees more flexible working hours. Microsoft Japan closed its offices every Friday during the month of August and found that labor productivity increased by 39.9% compared to August 2018. Full-time employees were given paid leave during the office closures.

Microsoft isn’t the first to highlight the benefits that a four-day work week can have on productivity. Andrew Barnes, the founder of a New Zealand-based estate planning firm Perpetual Garden, said he conducted a similar experiment and found that it benefited both employees and the company, according to CNBC. The company has now adopted the four-day work week permanently.

Studies have shown that there’s demand for a shorter work week. Last year, a study from the Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace found that the majority of workers around the world said their ideal work week would last four days.

It’s not just the employees that benefited from Microsoft’s four-day work week experiment. The project found that it also helped Microsoft 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 to August 2018.

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

This article was first published on 4th November 2019 for Business Insider Singapore

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