This Company Gave Workers A 3-Day Weekend And Saw Their Productivity Increase

Japan may not be the model example of a good work-life balance (in fact, they may be one of the worst), but that’s exactly why companies in the East Asian country are looking outside of the box for solutions to employee burnout. As the country that has the most overworked but least productive workforce among the G7 nations, it seems imperative that Japan’s work culture shift to something more sustainable.

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Which is exactly what Microsoft Japan has been experimenting with. Last August, Microsoft Japan implemented a “Working Reform Project” which essentially lengthened the weekend to 3 days for 2,300 of their employees. Each week, their employees were given an extra Friday off from work, fully paid and to no detriment of their allotted leave days.

The Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019, as it was aptly named, saw overwhelmingly positive results. Productivity increased by 39.9% even though employees were coming in to work less. This is attributed to time being handled more efficiently and work being done smarter. For example, meetings were shortened or made into virtual meetings to save on time.

Aside from productivity, the company was also able to save on efficiency. Employees took 25.4% fewer days off from work, they printed 58.7% fewer pages, and they used 23.1% less electricity in the office. Unsurprisingly, 92.1% of employees found the 4-day work week favorable.

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This success has spurred Microsoft Japan to repeat the experiment at other times throughout the year.

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