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Work hard, play hard: Micrsoft reports 40% increased productivity after decreased workding days

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For the past quarter Microsoft in Japan has tested a new working day schedule where Friday is also a holiday, and so far it has been working above expectations, decreasing costs and increasing productivity.

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Microsoft Japan tested a four-day workweek and has found the experiment a huge boon to employee productivity.

 

The tech giant recorded an almost 40% jump in productivity levels after cutting its work hours as part of a wider project to promote healthier work-life balance. Microsoft’s “Work Life Choice Challenge,” held this August, saw the firm close its doors on Fridays and give its 2,300 employees three-day weekends for the full month to assess the merits of a reduced workweek. Over that period, the firm saw productivity, as measured by sales per employee, rise 39.9% compared with August 2018. That boon was thanks in part, Microsoft said, to meetings capped at 30 minutes and an increase in remote conferences. Meanwhile, the firm saw a fall in costs, with 23.1% less electricity used and 58.7% fewer pages printed over the period.

 

The experiment, which also incorporated self-development and family wellness schemes, recorded largely positive feedback from employees, too, with 92.1% saying they liked the four-day workweek, according to the firm.Microsoft Japan says its now planning to conduct a similar work-life challenge this winter, aimed at encouraging greater flexible working. The notion of a four-day workweek has been gaining traction as advocates highlight its possible benefits in reducing stress and preventing overwork. In 2018, a New Zealand firm dubbed its two-month trial of a four-day workweek a success in improving work-life balance, while Virgin founder Richard Branson regularly outlines its merits for boosting happiness.

 

The impacts of overwork are felt acutely in Japan, which is known from having some of the world’s longest working hours. According to a 2016 government study, almost a quarter of Japanese companies require employees to work more than 80 hours overtime a month. Japan has even coined its own term for the extreme culture, “karoshi,” which translates as “death by overwork.”

Source:https://news.microsoft.com/ja-jp/2019/04/22/20190422-ms-worklifechoice2019/

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/04/microsoft-japan-4-day-work-week-experiment-sees-productivity-jump-40percent.html

https://mashable.com/article/microsoft-japan-4-day-work-week-trial-3-day-weekend/

Thoughts: In a country where people are known to overwork themsevles to death and a good load of fiction revolves around escapism, this is a great direction for any enterprises to look towards to. More corporations should implement this system, though I doubt it would work on every industry.

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I'd totally be up for this, long gone are the days of Factories dictating the working week. The world of work has changed since the 1800s!

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34 minutes ago, williamcll said:

The impacts of overwork are felt acutely in Japan, which is known from having some of the world’s longest working hours

?

 

Anyway. It would be interesting to see the effects longer term, though it does seem like it could be a good change. I certainly wouldn't say no to a 4 day work week

:)

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Yep, that's what every worker union has been saying for decades. Glad someone finally listened.

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-Apple iPad Pro - [5/10]

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last time i worked in an office everyone was mentally burnt out by friday. lol I once took every friday off for six months coz my COO told me the KPI system is a lie and they have no idea how to tell who is working hard and who is screwing around. I actually got an award for doing the most amount of work, or prob just to keep my mouth shut!

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1 hour ago, seon123 said:

https://data.oecd.org/emp/hours-worked.htm

?

 

Anyway. It would be interesting to see the effects longer term, though it does seem like it could be a good change. I certainly wouldn't say no to a 4 day work week

Without digging into it, it depends on how the OECD got their numbers. If you take the work population as a whole, it could be very different than if you isolate the "office worker" numbers. It's been a long time since I worked in Japan, and there is/was a need to be seen to be working long office hours, regardless if you are productive.

 

Question on 4 day week, would you be paid the same as 5 day week, or reduced accordingly? 

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7 minutes ago, porina said:

Question on 4 day week, would you be paid the same as 5 day week, or reduced accordingly? 

i assume there is a raise per hour of work, but overall probably a slight decrease in wages. 

 

otherwise it wouldnt make sence, even if there was an increase in productivity per hour

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I'd be fine with this so long as my pay was increased to offset the lost hours.

 

I can't see this catching on in the states. At least not with businesses that are open 7 days a week.

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26 minutes ago, Trik'Stari said:

At least not with businesses that are open 7 days a week.

can allways have a sudo weekend that is after the actual weekend. 

 

offcourse not suitable in every field of work, but certainly possible. 

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...Over that period, the firm saw productivity, as measured by sales per employee, rise 39.9% compared with August 2018...

Strange way of measuring productivity...

 

Many things affect sales. Promotion? New product launch? Change in marketing and pricing strategy? Seasonal?

 

'Sales' also didn't specify sales quantity or revenue. What about sales distribution? Could one employee have gotten lucky in the month and secured a big contract?

 

This reeks of being a PR move

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2 hours ago, GoldenLag said:

i assume there is a raise per hour of work, but overall probably a slight decrease in wages. 

 

otherwise it wouldnt make sence, even if there was an increase in productivity per hour

There were also indirect savings mentioned, like reduced electricity usage and printing. It doesn't only have to be from paying people less overall.

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I would love not to work on Fridays, I usually am exhausted by then... doing 11 hours of work from Monday to Friday can really wear you off.

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HPE started doing a thing called Wellness Friday which means once a month you get to leave 4 hours early and you still get paid if you are hourly. It definitely made a lot of people happy

ƆԀ S₱▓Ɇ▓cs: i7 6ʇɥפᴉƎ00K (4.4ghz), Asus DeLuxe X99A II, GT҉X҉1҉0҉8҉0 Zotac Amp ExTrꍟꎭe),Si6F4Gb D???????r PlatinUm, EVGA G2 Sǝʌǝᘉ5ᙣᙍᖇᓎᙎᗅᖶt, Phanteks Enthoo Primo, 3TB WD Black, 500gb 850 Evo, H100iGeeTeeX, Windows 10, K70 R̸̢̡̭͍͕̱̭̟̩̀̀̃́̃͒̈́̈́͑̑́̆͘͜ͅG̶̦̬͊́B̸͈̝̖͗̈́, G502, HyperX Cloud 2s, Asus MX34. פN∩SW∀S 960 EVO

Just keeping this here as a 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This is being discussed on LinkedIn quite heavily already, and something stinks about it.  If they're claiming a "40%" increase in productivity, that's cool.  Seems suspect, but OK, let's go with it.  Then they say, "We only did it for a month, and we might do it again NEXT YEAR."

 

Hm.  Why for only a month?  And if it was so stunningly successful in raising productivity, why wait till next year to maybe try it again?  Any simple step that can instantly increase productivity by that kind of margin would be required by the board.  Throughout the entire company across the entire world.  Investors would immediately latch onto that and insist, "Why aren't you doing this right now?  And permanently?  And everywhere?"

 

Something stinks.  I'm all for working smarter vs harder.  And if the four-day thing actually does make a difference, then by all means let's do it.  But this one experiment by MS in one of their offices shouldn't be proof that it absolutely works.  If it were, they'd have already implemented it corporate-wide by now.  So would a lot of other companies.

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Just as a note, what it they forced everyone to stay home. They're still pulling 45-50 hour work weeks. It's Japan, after all.

 

This is probably better thought of as "sleep is actually good for you" more than it is about work time productivity. 

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26 minutes ago, jasonvp said:

This is being discussed on LinkedIn quite heavily already, and something stinks about it.  If they're claiming a "40%" increase in productivity, that's cool.  Seems suspect, but OK, let's go with it.  Then they say, "We only did it for a month, and we might do it again NEXT YEAR."

 

Hm.  Why for only a month?  And if it was so stunningly successful in raising productivity, why wait till next year to maybe try it again?  Any simple step that can instantly increase productivity by that kind of margin would be required by the board.  Throughout the entire company across the entire world.  Investors would immediately latch onto that and insist, "Why aren't you doing this right now?  And permanently?  And everywhere?"

 

Something stinks.  I'm all for working smarter vs harder.  And if the four-day thing actually does make a difference, then by all means let's do it.  But this one experiment by MS in one of their offices shouldn't be proof that it absolutely works.  If it were, they'd have already implemented it corporate-wide by now.  So would a lot of other companies.

Sleep. But the increase in productivity from the schedule change would mostly be a one-time run and was probably only true the first two weeks.

 

"That boon was thanks in part, Microsoft said, to meetings capped at 30 minutes and an increase in remote conferences. Meanwhile, the firm saw a fall in costs, with 23.1% less electricity used and 58.7% fewer pages printed over the period."

 

This is the actual reason and why they won't normally give everyone 3-day weekends. They forced Japanese management to get their meetings done quickly and come to decisions. The 3-day weekend was just a "sweetener" to implement fairly radical, for Japanese business culture, changes in management. MS is getting cheap headlines about the workhours, but they really enforced better management practices on their Japanese office. Productivity improved, what a concept when you stop wasting time.

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2 minutes ago, jasonvp said:

This is being discussed on LinkedIn quite heavily already, and something stinks about it.  If they're claiming a "40%" increase in productivity, that's cool.  Seems suspect, but OK, let's go with it.  Then they say, "We only did it for a month, and we might do it again NEXT YEAR."

 

Hm.  Why for only a month?  And if it was so stunningly successful in raising productivity, why wait till next year to maybe try it again?  Any simple step that can instantly increase productivity by that kind of margin would be required by the board.  Throughout the entire company across the entire world.  Investors would immediately latch onto that and insist, "Why aren't you doing this right now?  And permanently?  And everywhere?"

 

Something stinks.  I'm all for working smarter vs harder.  And if the four-day thing actually does make a difference, then by all means let's do it.  But this one experiment by MS in one of their offices shouldn't be proof that it absolutely works.  If it were, they'd have already implemented it corporate-wide by now.  So would a lot of other companies.

What is complicated in this, is that in Japan, in a typical business, the employee does not leave work before his manager leaves, and that goes all the way to the top. If you have a workaholic, then you as an employee you are screwed. It is known issue in Japan, where parents barely see their kids as a result. And there is a lot a repetitive works (which is a model pushed on the education level) with lots of reports and meetings.  Heck, sleeping at work, because you are doing useless work, is viewed by manager as a good (its viewed as the employee is hard working, and doing his best).

 

So an extra day off, means A LOT to them. It can really boost moral.

But would that model work everywhere? That is the problem.

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5 hours ago, GoldenLag said:

i assume there is a raise per hour of work, but overall probably a slight decrease in wages. 

 

otherwise it wouldnt make sence, even if there was an increase in productivity per hour

If the same amount of work is getting done in 4 days instead of 5. I'd say the pay should be the same.

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Lots of people are proud of how many hours they work. "I average 60 hours a week." "I work 80+ hours every week" As a proof they are hard working and some sort of achievement.

 

I met someone who claimed he worked 100+ hours a week regularly. Sure, he has a very "productive" life.

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14 minutes ago, Deli said:

If the same amount of work is getting done in 4 days instead of 5. I'd say the pay should be the same.

Thats possible. At least in this test group that they keep their wages. In an actual situation i see them dropping wages slightly. 

 

Work sadly doesnt equal payment

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1 minute ago, GoldenLag said:

Thats possible. At least in this test group that they keep their wages. In an actual situation i see them dropping wages slightly. 

 

Work sadly doesnt equal payment

The boss always looks for excuse to pay less. That's the universal truth.

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In India they experimented with 6 days a week after the british left, and we never went back. i know for a fact i am living my life at work and there's nothing i can do about it. 

 

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1 minute ago, Deli said:

The boss always looks for excuse to pay less. That's the universal truth.

If they do these changes. How long untill the boss realizes that if he extends the work weekend by a day, he can get 20% more productivity put of his workers?

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2 minutes ago, Rohith_Kumar_Sp said:

In India they experimented with 6 days a week after the british left, and we never went back. i know for a fact i am living my life at work and there's nothing i can do about it. 

  1. Start a company with a 5 day work week
  2. ?????
  3. Profit
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3 minutes ago, GoldenLag said:

If they do these changes. How long untill the boss realizes that if he extends the work weekend by a day, he can get 20% more productivity put of his workers?

My experience tells me the big bosses are usually shortsighted. Employee are expendable like toilet paper.

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