Microsoft finds four-day work week could boost productivity

  • Sales per employee rose by 40% in a trial of four-day work weeks in Microsoft's Japan offices, coinciding with adoption of remote work tools and shorter meetings. 

    Most jobs today are based on the 40-hour work week running from around 9am to 5pm on Monday through to Friday, with firms offering varying levels of flexibility. This work schedule has come under fire in recent years from those working in highly technical and creative roles whose work isn't a simple matter of manhours.

    Research conducted in the US has pointed to office workers only being productive for around three hours per day in an average eight hour shift, and studies on shorter six-hour work days have been carried out in several countries. Reducing hours has reportedly boosted overall productivity in many studies, with staff becoming happier and costs decreasing.

    Microsoft recently trialled a four-day work week at its offices in Japan, a country known for its culture of long working hours. As part of its Work Life Choice Challenge, the office closed every Friday in August over the summer this year and gave all staff paid leave for the day.

    The office reportedly saw 39.9% increase in sales per employee during the trial period compared to the same month last year. Office overhead costs also dropped during the period, and the number of people doing shorter 30-minute meetings and remote conferences also increased. The workers changed to using Microsoft Teams to reduce organisational overheads, which may have been a confounding factor in allowing them to be more productive on fewer hours.

    Source: BBC News

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