Microsoft Switches to 4-Day Workweek, Productivity Jumps 40%

February 6, 2020 at 3:40 pm

People are more creative and productive when they work less, Microsoft and other companies are learning

As an experiment, Microsoft Japan closed its offices every Friday for a month last August and found its employees were 40% more productive than the previous August.

The extra rest and relaxation provided by a 3-day weekend apparently made workers more creative, and in turn, more productive for the company.

The trial was aimed at relieving “burnout” and improving “work-life balance.”

The extra day off not only made employees more productive, it saved the company nearly 25% on its electric bill.

Microsoft isn’t the first company to try a 4-day workweek. A New Zealand trust management company called Perpetual Guardian made headlines in 2018 when it announced a 20% productivity increase¬† during an experiment, in which they paid people their regular salary for working four days. Last October, the company made the policy permanent.

Workplace analyst and author Dan Schawbel sees schedule flexibility and a shorter work week as the top two strategies for solving what he calls an “ongoing burnout crisis” in the United States.

“Younger people actually choose work flexibility over health care coverage,” workplace analyst Dan Schawbel tells NPR.

Europe is home to some of the world’s strongest work-life-balance laws. For example, along with a shorter workweek, France protects employees’ right to disconnect from their jobs, limiting email and other communications after hours.