Microsoft sees a 40 per cent productivity boost from four-day week test in Japan


At least one employee looks psyched for his three-day weekend.

DESPITE ALL THE TECHNOLOGICAL advancements of the last century, we’ve been stuck in a five-day working week for nearly 100 years. There’s a wide body of evidence to suggest that’s a silly idea, with work just stretching to fill the time, and Microsoft Japan now has more proof of the pudding.

This August, the company switched to mandatory three-day weekends for its 2,300 staff every week, closing the doors and making them shut down Teams, close all their Bing windows and put Clippy to bed. Meetings were also capped at half an hour, and there was an increase in remote conferencing. 

The results were pretty staggering. Not only did sales per employee go up by a whopping 39.9 per cent year on year, but Microsoft also used 23.1 per cent less electricity and printed 58.7 per cent fewer pages.

Naturally employees were a big fan of the changes tested over the period, which also included self improvement and family wellness programmes. In all, 92.1 per cent of employees said they liked it, according to Microsoft. The remaining 7.9 per cent presumably have less comfortable seating at home.

Over here, four-day weeks are pretty uncommon, although that could all change very soon, given a commitment to it is going to be part of the Labour Party manifesto in the upcoming election

This has unsurprisingly been jumped on by opposition parties as unrealistic, but before you look at Microsoft’s experiment and conclude it’s actually pretty reasonable, it’s important to recognise that Japan is a very different country with some of the longest working hours in the world. 

In short, any country that literally has come up for a word that means “overwork death” probably isn’t one which has previously been a beacon of employee satisfaction. µ

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