It has long been debated if a 4-day-workday is better, than a 5-productivity-day workday in a week. Microsoft Japan proved what’s best for their employees.
The three day weekend improved not only the life-work balance of its employees, but the company itself gained more than the usual.
The 2,300 employees had days off from Friday-Sunday for a month. They all having no changes in salary. The result of the month-long trial was an increase of 40% in the office.
Microsoft Japan: Employee Productivity Gains and Low Utility Bills
The workers have 20% less time in the office, but it gained 40% productivity.
When it comes to their jobs, it has been known that Japanese workers have the least satisfaction. Employers would wonder what the problem is.
Furthermore, Microsoft workers learned that they have the least time to do other things. Meetings were shortened and online sessions were preferred instead of showing up themselves personally.
Company meetings would only last at least 30 minutes. According to them, there is no reason to make meetings longer than 1 hour.
The greatest achievement of this trial run is that more than 90% of the workers enjoy this kind of work setup.
Although this was just part of the Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019, Microsoft reported that they are going to roll this out as an exercise every summer, and probably this might happen some other times in the year.
Electricity cost got lower by 23%. They were able to print 60% off the pages. Chat channels were more encouraged rather than emails, which take a lot of time and effort.
While this procedure was being spearheaded, Microsoft Japan employees also tend not to take a leave of absence.
These employees who opted to try this out were given special pays despite taking the Fridays off. Their pay checks remained the same.
Chancellor John McDonell recognized this and said that this wasn’t new. According to him, “We should work to live and not live to work.”
Many of these unhappy workers are not only in Japan but in different parts of the world.
In 2018, a company from New Zealand trust management company did this before, and it turned out the same as Microsoft Japan’s initial trial.
They gained 20% of productivity. Just as the 4th quarter was starting, the company made the policy permanent.
Should we all adapt to Microsoft Japan’s work culture?
Microsoft has not come into a decision whether it will continue with that kind of policy. Still, according to the spokesperson, “In the spirit of growth mindset, we are always looking for our technology to improve the experience for our employees around the globe.”
In the US, the younger workers would choose flexible working than health care, even though medical expenses are exuberant.
This may also open up to a more political issue similar to maternity benefits, parental leave, and the likes. Another hindrance is wage growth. This often boils down to money questions.
If the payment is constant, will employers and staff really opt for this kind of policy?