Productivity Increased by 40% When Microsoft Tried a 4-Day Work Week

Bella Trimmer, Staff Writer

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Last summer, Microsoft introduced a new program for its Japanese offices called the “Work Life Choice Challenge.” The new program shut down its offices every Friday in August, giving all its employees an extra day off each week. While time spent at work obviously decreased dramatically, productivity—measured by sales per employee—increased by about 40% compared to the same period last year. Meetings were encouraged to be cut down in size and sometimes removed from the workplace entirely with the use of messaging apps. 

More than 90% of Microsoft’s 2,280 employees in Japan later said they were impacted by the new measures, according to the company. The program was most likely first started in that region for good reason; Japan has a long history of a culture of overworking, which is sometimes fatal. The country has even coined a term for it; the word karoshi is defined as “death caused by overwork or job-related exhaustion.”
Microsoft says that it plans on starting another experiment in Japan next year, and asks other companies to join the initiative in finding ways to help find a better work-life balance and approve efficiency.