Japan is known to have some of the longest working hours in the world, with nearly a quarter of Japanese companies previously requiring employees to record more than 80 overtime per month, according to a government survey by 2016. They took so long that Japan introduced a new law this year, limiting legal overtime to 45 hours per month, the Telegraph reported.
Microsoft Japan is working to break this trend, thanks to a bold new strategy that hopes to improve its employees' work-life balance by implementing a three-day weekend for its employees.
They found that as the company shortened hours of its workweek, productivity increased - a surprising result considering that Japan is one of the most overloaded and least productive workforces among -7 countries, according to a report from CNBC that used data from the OECD Productivity Compendium Indicators.
In August, the company conducted a “Work Reform Project” called the Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019. For a month in August, its 2.300 employees were given time off on Fridays.
The results found that even without the extra day, productivity within the company increased by 39,9%.
The study found that an important factor in increasing productivity was a result of the changes that occurred. The four-day workweek forced employees to use their time more efficiently; Many of the meetings have been cut, shortened, or changed to virtual meetings instead of in person, according to the agency.
Employees also took 25,4% fewer days off during the month, printed 58,7% fewer pages, and consumed 23,1% less office electricity, the study found.
Although this strategy did not work for all types of work, most Microsoft Japan employees were strong supporters of the new initiative.
The agency said 92,1% of employees said they enjoyed the four-day workweek at the end of their August test.
Because of the program's success, Microsoft says it plans to implement it again next summer or on other dates in the future.