Microsoft Japan Tries 4-Day Work Week And Productivity Increased By 40%

by Leah Groth

Productivity at Microsoft Japan increased by a whopping 40 percent when they reduced the work week by just one day

If you had an extra day off every week, imagine what would you could do with it. You could spend more time with your loved ones, go on three-day travel excursions, use it for self-care purposes, to get all the crap done on your to-do list, or simply to recharge. Many people have wondered how reducing the work week to four days would impact worker productivity, so in recent years, researchers have begun to look into it, and many studies have found it to be incredibly beneficial. Well, Microsoft Japan is clearly intrigued by the idea and recently decided to find out if it held true.

“Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot. It’s necessary to have an environment that allows you to feel your purpose in life and make a greater impact at work,” said Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano. “I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20 percent less working time,”

As part of their “Work Life Choice Challenge” in August, the company decided to close its doors on Fridays, giving employees a three-day weekend for the entire month. Their salaries stayed the same and no days were taken off from their yearly allowance. In order to make it happen, meetings were capped at 30 minutes and there was an increase in remote conferences.

At the end of the experiment, they crunched the numbers, looking at overall productivity for the month, comparing it to August 2018. Guess what they found out? Productivity, measured by sales per employee, increased by a staggering 39.9 percent compared to the year before.

Additionally, the firm saw their costs decrease as well. 23.1 percent less electricity was used and 58.7 percent fewer pages were printed over the period. Employees were also pleased with their additional time, with 92.1 percent approving of the four-day work week.

While it seems as though mostly everyone would be totally on board for a reduced work week, many people on social media were skeptical about how it would play out in the long run. For example, some were worried that companies would end up reducing salaries.


One woman, who worked for a company who tried out a four-day work week, with ten hour days, confessed it was tough on people.


Others simply thought it was unrealistic that people could get all their work done with eight hours less time do it. Also, someone pointed out that the cost of living would increase, as another day off translates to extra expenses.


Some were all for it, confident that productivity would be boosted due to employee morale.



However, one person did point out that these boosts in efficiency may only be temporary and that “after a year or two things will be normal again.”


Microsoft Japan seems to be pretty excited about the results of their experiment, and will do another one sometime this winter.