Here’s one more reason to switch to four-day workweek – Microsoft tried it and productivity rose


Can we accomplish the same amount of work in four days as we can in five?

That has been the question on the minds of many for some time now, especially as demands for a shorter workweek grow louder.

Different countries in Europe, including a New Zealand firm, are already experimenting a four-day workweek and they haven’t regretted, as productivity has soared.

For those who are still doubting the effectiveness of a shorter workweek, maybe this new experiment from Microsoft will change your mind.

The technology giant recently tested out a four-day workweek and found that employees were more productive and happier during the trial.

The temporary experimental policy 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,” reports the Business Insider.

As part of the experiment, Microsoft Japan’s office gave its 2,300 employees five Fridays in a row off work during the month of August without making any changes to their pay.

Interestingly, despite the shorter workweek, more work ended up being done as productivity rose to 40 per cent, the technology giant announced last week.

The company also reduced the amount of time spent in meetings as it implemented a 30-minute time limit for meetings and ensured remote communication.

The project also brought in other benefits, as electricity costs were significantly reduced while less printer paper was used.

You might say that what works in one country may not necessarily work in another, but studies and experiments have shown that a shorter workweek is more beneficial. Hence, companies continue to try it out.

This June, a report from the Society for Human Resource Management said 15 per cent of over 2,700 American companies and organizations surveyed now offer a four-day workweek option to employees.

“While four-day workweeks are still relatively uncommon, organizations that have implemented them report no decreases to productivity or revenue as a result,” the report said.

In New Zealand, a manager of an estate planning firm, Perpetual Garden, let his 240 employees take Friday off in March and April last year.

Andrew Barnes, the founder of the firm, said the experiment made employees 20 per cent more productive.

He believes that the strategy can work for any company despite its size, location or industry.

What is, however, holding other employers back, especially those in the U.S. from adopting the strategy is largely psychological, Barnes said.

“At the heart of this is productivity and, if we can get enhanced productivity from something that delivers work-life balance, it’s a win-win-win,” he said.


Last Edited by:Ama Nunoo Updated: February 4, 2021


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