Microsoft Japan's 4-day workweek boosted productivity by 40%

Microsoft Japan concluded that a month-long experiment, during which employees were asked to work four days a week, was positive for both the company and the employees.

The "Work Life Choice Challenge" kicked off in August, and all 2,300 employees were given three-day weekends in order to fully assess the pros and cons of working fewer hours. Employees were still paid for the Fridays they were not working during the experiment.

According to the Yahoo Finance video above, compared to August 2018, employee productivity jumped 40 percent. The number of papers printed was reduced by 58 percent, and electricity usage decreased by 23 percent.

Japan has some of the longest working hours in the world — one in four companies expect employees to work up to 80 hours in overtime a month. In the US, a third of Americans report working 45 hours or more a week.

The trial also offered self-development and family wellness schemes that were met with positive feedback — 92% of employees said they loved the experimental four-day workweek.

A 2018 study conducted by New Zealand firm Perpetual Guardian had similar findings. After implementing a two-month trial with four-day workweeks, staff said their stress levels were lower, and 78 percent of the group said they felt like their work-life balance was manageable, versus only 54 percent saying that pretrial. Performance across the board stayed relatively the same, if not slightly better.

Microsoft Japan plans to hold another work-life challenge this upcoming winter, this time with the focus on encouraging employees to be more flexible and smarter with taking time off.