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Microsoft Just Switched to a 4-Day-Workweek, Saw 40% Productivity Boost: Could Your Company Be Next?

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The 5 day, 40-hour workweek has been put under a bit of question lately—does more time mean better work? Microsoft decided to test it.


An enlightening and potentially culture-redefining study from Microsoft conducted at one of their subsidiaries in Japan found that “a four-day workweek led to a nearly 40% boost in productivity,” reported Good. Not to mention an environmentally friendly decrease in office resources (e.g. 60% decrease in printing and over 23% decrease in electricity consumption).

Good highlighted, “Microsoft Japan closed its offices every Friday in August of this year to see how it affected productivity year-over-year. The study showed that productivity was 39.8% higher in August 2019 over August 2018.”

So does this mean that a four-day workweek is actually better for business?

A three day weekend has always seemed like the answer to the dreaded “Sunday Blues.” And as it turns out, many people feel the same way.

Roughly 40% of Americans report working 50 hours a week. Combine these hours with time spent in the car commuting and you come to the shocking realization that we spend more time at work and in our cars than with our loved ones or pursuing our other interests and passions.

Are that many hours a week in an office necessary to complete an average workload?

It was put to the test when one boss decided to conduct a little experiment to find out for himself, and the results will shock you.

Incredible, isn’t it?

Watching this video makes you think about the hours spent at your desk and what you do with them.

Maybe this rings a bell?

 

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At 9 am in the morning, 5-6 pm seems so far away. It’s easy to lose a sense of urgency in completing work. But as seen in the video above,  when less time was spent in the office, that sense of urgency increased. People were cutting out unnecessary chatter and internet browsing. Instead, there was an urgency to up productivity to complete their work in fewer hours.

Instead of 40-50 hours a week, they worked 35 hours smarter, instead of harder. The results showed that employees actually changed the way they worked to work more efficiently. Productivity increased and stress decreased. Instead of feeling like a hamster trapped on a wheel while trying to manage long days at the office followed by picking up the kids, cooking and taking care of a house, employees reported feeling balanced in their work and home lives.

For some, this “four-day workweek” could actually still mean five, but having the option to have a shorter five days rather than a long four. This would allow employees to drop off their kids at school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. Or hit the gym, take a class or relax with loved ones before or after work. 

And it’s not just this boss and this experiment that has put power behind the four-day workweek. In 2012, Jason Fried, co-founder of the New York Times, wrote an op-ed arguing that the reduced schedule makes people more focused on getting things done in the limited time they have. “When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important,” he writes. “Constraining time encourages quality time.”

In 1930 economist John Maynard Keynes famously predicted that in 100 years, technological advances would allow people to work as little as 15 hours per week. As we enter 2019, that gives us another 11 years to bring this prediction to life!

But we have a long way to go from 50 hour weeks to 15—so what better time to start than now?