Japan is one of the countries with the most weekly working hours in the world. Nearly a quarter of Japanese companies require employees to work 80 hours a month, according to a 2016 government survey.
This situation lasted and caused such severe consequences that, earlier this year, Japan introduced a new law that limits the number of legal overtime hours at businesses to 45 hours a month.
Microsoft Japan recently announced a new reform strategy, hoping to improve the work-life balance of employees.
According to Fox News, in August, Microsoft Japan began implementing a Work Reform Project called the Work-Life Summer Challenge 2019. Within a month, the company allowed 2,300 employees. Members take extra leave every Friday. This means that employees at the company are entitled to 3 full weekends.
Based on data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) assessment of productivity index, the surprising results show that after the company reduced the number of working hours per week, the Labor productivity of employees actually increased. Specifically, even when there are no extra working days, the labor productivity of Microsoft Japanese employees increased by 39.9%.
Research shows that a key factor contributing to increased company productivity is the change in the number of meetings. The four working days of the week force employees to use their time more efficiently, many meetings have been cut, shortened, or switched to online meetings instead of face-to-face meetings.
Employees also took 25.4% fewer breaks in the month, printed less than 58.7% of pages and saved 23.1% of electricity in the office.
Most employees at Microsoft Japan expressed their support for this new initiative. 91.2% of the staff said that they liked the 4-day workweek at the end of the August trial.
Given the success of the program, the company confirmed that it plans to re-implement this initiative next summer or some time in the near future.