A 4-day workweek increased the productivity of workers by almost 40% according to results from a recent trial conducted by Microsoft Japan.

Microsoft workers were in for good times during the summer as the company introduced a program called the 'Work-Life Choice Challenge,' which let the employees enjoy 3-day weekends with normal 5-day paychecks. The Microsoft offices would shut down every Friday to give the workers an extra day off.

According to Microsoft Japan, the results were promising, as it became efficient in several areas. While productivity increased by 40%, measured in sales per employee, there was also a 23% reduction in electricity costs. They also printed 60 percent fewer pages as employees enjoyed a 4-day workweek.

In addition to having an extra day off, the managers also asked the workers to cut down time spent in meetings from 60 minutes to 30 minutes with a maximum of five employees attending the meeting. Microsoft Japan had earlier announced its intention to shift towards better time management, encouraging employees to use online messaging apps rather than wasting time in meetings and sending wasteful emails.

The results from the trial show that a 4-day workweek, which is already being adopted by many smaller companies around the world, could also work perfectly for the big businesses. Microsoft Japan said that the trial had an impact on 90% of their 2,280 employees. 4-day workweek caught everybody’s attention in 2018 when a New Zealand trust management company that adopted the policy announced a 20% gain in employee productivity and a 45% increase in employee work-life balance.

When Microsoft announced its plans to implement 4-day workweeks, a lot of people had reacted positively. Comments like "Here's to hoping my boss reads about this" and "So I guess me feeling like I'm ready to be done for the week by Wednesday is pretty natural," were reported by the Asian news site Sora News 24.

The trial and the positive results come at an important time for Japan which has been suffering from a bad case of overwork. The condition is so grave that it has resulted in the deaths of employees from overwork, eventually leading Japan to coin a term for it: karoshi.

Microsoft is planning to conduct a similar trial in Japan during the winter again this year. Employees have also been encouraged to come up with ideas that can improve work-life balance and efficiency.

Microsoft booth at the Consumer Electronics Show 2009 Ben Franske/Wikimedia Creative Commons