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.
Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance
Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance score: 3.8
"Nice people with a high team spirit, a great work life balance, countless events, activities, and benefits and low hierarchies." —Wooga Game Designer (Berlin, Germany
"The flexibility, hours, and off on weekends with family are good for me. I do not have to pay for day care because of the hours. I don't have to work if I do not want to. I can pick and choose if I want to work that day or go to that school." — Killeen Independent School District Substitute Teacher (Killeen, Texas)
"Work/life balance is likely the best thing about this company. Training is excellent. Opportunities to do and try new things are always available." —Rackspace Sales Representative (San Antonio, Texas)
"Judges are friendly and approachable, salaries are competitive, IT support is outstanding, you can be an attorney here and still maintain a good work/life balance." —US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Law Clerk (Washington, D.C.)
"The compensation is outstanding and there really is great work-life balance. Everyone you work with is highly intelligent. Leadership encourages innovation." —Tradebot Equity Trader (Kansas City, Missouri)
"The culture feels like a college campus where you get to work with lots of smart people who also happen to be nice. Work/life balance is good." —Intuit Corporate Communications (Mountain View, California)
"The team is incredible, there are plenty of people to learn from, there are many perks, and I always get the support I need to continually advance in my career. I also like maintaining a good work-life balance, and I can definitely do this at LinkedIn." —LinkedIn User Experience Designer (Mountain View, California)
"Flexible schedule, free membership to workout, nice group of fitness instructors who are generally very knowledgeable about their particular classes- i.e. Zumba, yoga, spinning, clean and reasonably well maintained gym, very nice aerobics studio- large, mirrors and good sound system." —LA Fitness Group Fitness Instructor (Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania)
"I feel that the work I do is important, both to Abstrakt and our clients but also to my professional development as well. Although I am kept busy, I also have a lot of fun at work and feel like I have a good work-life balance." —Abstrakt Social Media Manager (St. Louis, Missouri)
"You learn a lot about Customer Service, you get to take different workshops and classes, and managers work with you and have your best interest at heart. You meet a lot of new people, and it is a great environment to work in." —The Fox Theatre – Atlanta Tour Guide (Atlanta, Georgia)
"Great company culture, opportunity for growth, fun coworkers, work hard play hard mentality. We often have company outings, video game breaks, catered lunches." —Geek Powered Studios SEO Specialist (Austin, Texas)
"Not only is everyone incredibly sharp and very good at their jobs, but also, almost without exception, everyone is a pleasure to work and associate with. I'm given an incredible work/life balance." —Facebook Data Scientist (Menlo Park, California)
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.
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.