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Microsoft’s four-day weeks boosts productivity by 40%


Tech giant Microsoft trialled a four-day working week with its Japanese work force and found a 40% gain on productivity.

It appears that to get the most out of an organisation’s workforce, less – it appears – is more. HR practitioners take note.

For the entire month of August, Microsoft Japan tested a new project called Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019 – giving its 2300 employees five Fridays off consequently while maintaining their salary. According to Microsoft, by the end of the trial, four-day weeks led to more efficient meetings, a happier workforce and significant boost to productivity.

“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,” said Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano in a statement on Microsoft Japan’s website, it was reported in The Guardian.

Other knock-on effects of the Tokyo-headquartered Japanese arm of Microsoft were that employees took 25% less time off during the trial and electricity usage dropped by 23% in the office with the additional day off per week. More than nine out of ten employees said they preferred the shorter week.

There were also environmental benefits too. Employees printed 59% fewer pages of paper during the experiment.

Another trial, the results of which were published by the Harvard Business Review, revealed that decreasing the average 8-hour work day to a 6-hour work day, increased productivity.

Additionally, a survey last year of 3000 employees by the Workforce Institute showed that more than 50% of full-time employees believed they could do their job in just five hours a day.

While the shortened work-week at Microsoft Japan was just trial at this stage, the company pointed out that it remained committed to boosting the welfare of its workforce – if it also improves productivity, that’s a bonus.

According to a Microsoft spokesperson, “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.”

Image courtesy The Guardian

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