Microsoft Japan has seen a rise in employee productivity during a four-day workweek trial period instituted by the company in August. During the trial, employees worked Monday through Thursday and were given special paid leave on Friday. This program was instituted by Microsoft Japan as part of its Work-Life Choice Challenge, which also included an employee support program involving travel-related expenses and workshops
The four-day workweek increased productivity by 40 percent, and 92 percent of employees stated they enjoyed the program.
Additionally, during the four-day workweek trial period, the company saw other unexpected benefits. For example, the number of papers printed dropped by 58 percent and electricity consumption was down by 23 percent.
The idea of a four-day workweek caused a stir in Japan because of the large number of overtime hours Japanese companies require. A government study revealed that one in four Japanese companies require 80 hours of overtime per month. However, these overtime hours have not resulted in more productivity, as Japan is ranked lowest in productivity among G-7 nations by the OECD Compendium of Productivity Indicators. In an effort to rectify this productivity ranking, nearly seven percent of major, privately-held Japanese companies have implemented a four-day workweek in 2018.
Microsoft Japan is not alone in considering a four-day workweek; a company in New Zealand called Perpetual Guardian found increases in employee happiness, creativity, productivity, and punctuality after a four-day workweek trial period. According to some economists, a four-day workweek is beneficial to employers because it allows employees to be more effective in focusing their attention and improves work-life balance. Rosie Perper "Microsoft Japan trialed a 4-day workweek over the summer and says it saw a 40% increase in productivity from its staff" businessinsider.com (Nov. 04, 2019).
So, the question for our readers is: Would your organization benefit from a four-day workweek?
Please take the poll. Here are some opinions of the McCalmon editorial staff:
Jack McCalmon, Esq.
A four-day work week and other trends to limit the time at work all seek the same goal…through work-life balance increase productivity. What we do know is that time spent at work does not necessarily equal more productivity. However, it is still questionable whether time away from work increases work productivity. My personal opinion is that more flexibility in the work schedule improves productivity so that employees can determine their own path to achieve that balance.
Leslie Zieren, Esq.
A four-day work week could work for many types of businesses, but not for all. Even in organizations that it would work for, it would be wise, before implementing such a change, to give employees significant lead time in which to reorganize their personal lives. Imagine parents or other family caregivers (used to leaving work at 4:00 or 5:00 p.m). now having to stay much later into the evenings on their four workdays, even though they are off work on the fifth day. Meals, transporting children to sports activities, music rehearsals, etc. would all have to be managed in a new way.
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