We can all agree that a satisfied worker is what every company needs. Unlike in the past, nowadays, employers seek ways to stimulate their staff to increase their productivity and in turn boost their own earnings.
What every person dreams about in the workplace, apart from being valued and paid as deserved, is flexibility. Flexibility allows for workers to create balance and deal with all the other things happening in their lives, so it is an effective way to increase engagement, productivity, happiness, and focus.
Throughput the month of August, Microsoft’s Japan offices tested out a four-day workweek and found that employees were both happier and more productive during the trial.
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.
According to the company, Microsoft Japan gave its 2,300 employees five Fridays in a row off work and found that labor productivity increased by 39.9% compared with August 2018. During the closures, full-time employees were given paid leave.
Moreover, the company said it also reduced the time spent in meetings by implementing a 30-minute limit and encouraging remote communication.
Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano stated that the company also promised its employees about $1000 for a family summer vacation.
“Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot. I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20% less working time.”
Even though the employees worked fewer hours, they did more work, which suggested that they were actually more productive. This was believed to be due to them being much happier and could more easily focus on their work.
Moreover, the experiment was beneficial for the company in other ways as well, as electricity costs were significantly reduced, and less printer paper was used.
Yet, even though it was successful, the trial was temporary, and it is unclear if or when the company will make it an official policy.
Microsoft stated that it will conduct another experiment in Japan later this year. It intends to ask employees to come up with new measures to improve work-life balance and efficiency, and will also ask other companies to join the initiative.
A Microsoft spokesman said:
“In the spirit of a growth mindset, we are always looking for new ways to innovate and leverage our own technology to improve the experience for our employees around the globe.”
This is not the first time a four-day week has been attempted. Last year, the New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian experimented with a similar policy, and the results were very impressive. Consequently, it has adopted the four-day workweek permanently.
A study published last year by the Harvard Business Review showed that by decreasing the workday from 8 hours to 6, workers ended up getting more done.
Another 2018 study published by the Workforce Institute at Kronos, suggested that half of the full-time employees surveyed believed that they could get their job done in 5 hours or less each day.