Not too many companies have expressed willingness to make workweek a day shorter. Those that did, achieved tremendous results. It was fascinating to see that Microsoft Promoted 4-day workweek in none other country than Japan! Whether this trend will become dominant in years to come, we are yet to see. However, things appear to be changing for the better in some parts of the world, to both workers’ and employers’ satisfaction.
The Japan Experiment
Back in July this year, Microsoft reportedly conducted a sort of an experiment in its Japan office with 2,300 employees. Namely, the company introduced 4-day workweek allowing workers to have Friday and weekends as days off. The idea came from the founder of New Zealand company, Perpetual Garden, Mr. Andrew Barnes. This company switched permanently to 4-day workweek last year, as it proved to be beneficial.
The results in Microsoft were quite measurable. Reportedly, the company recorded 40% increase in productivity when comparing with the same period a year before. They concluded that shorter workweek motivates employees to work harder and complete tasks. Special motivation comes from knowing they would recharge in the following 3 days. That way, days off come as a reward.
Moreover, Microsoft noted that with shorter workweek, the electricity costs are lower by 23%. Simultaneously, the Japanese printed 60% less paper documents during the experiment. Most importantly, 92% of employees reported they were happy with 4-day workweek.
Microsoft has purportedly announced another round of experiments that should take place during this winter. This time, they would explore other ways to make work more flexible and rate the productivity later on.
What’s the Story in the USA?
The workers in America officially work the longest hours in the world. The 40-hour workday was a standard set a long time ago. Paradoxically, the Americans appear to be working longer hours today in spite of tech development. There are less tasks that we do manually today. Nevertheless, we work longer than before. Almost half of workers in the US work overtime. We should also be aware that there are many situations when working long hours is not paid properly.
Software companies are among the rare ones that apply flexibility in many forms. Whether it’s flexible working hours, or other benefits, such as health care package, unlimited vacation policy , work from home, or higher salaries, or all of this combined, their employees are usually satisfied. It has been estimated that nearly one third of companies worldwide are offering the mentioned benefits to their employees. Apparently, they have experienced better productivity that way.
Aiming for higher productivity, lower costs and less time spent in the working process still appears to be a fairy tale for many employers. However, the voices that advocate shorter workweek are becoming stronger. The whole point of tech application is to make our lives easier and more fruitful. The trends in various tech fields all have one thing in common – to make any kind of process quicker, almost instant, while providing reliable results. If our civilization has achieved such developmental stage that we can afford this on micro level, testing it globally would be the next step.
The question that inevitably comes to everyone’s mind is: why the country with one of the greatest industries in the world cannot afford the reform of this kind?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.