The trial was held in the month of August with the project names Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019. The project resulted in the entries 2,300-person workforce to receive five Fridays off work whilst still receiving the same pay.
The project revealed that the four-day week resulted in more efficient meetings, happier workers and a productivity increase of 40%. The plan also included the company idea to subsidize family vacations for employees up to ¥100,000 or $920.
Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano commented:
Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot.
He then added,
I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20% less working time.
The results also revealed that employees took 25% less time off and electricity usage was reduced by 23%. The vast majority of employees, 92%, reported liking the shorter week.
This type of trail is not the first of its kind. In 2018 a New Zealand company conducted the same experiment of four-day weeks over two months for 240 employees. It revealed that employees experienced better work-life balance and found it easier to focus in the office. Stress levels decreased by 7%.
A survey conducted by HR Consulting firm Robert Half reported that of 1,500 workers and 600 managers over half, 66%, said they would prefer a four-day working week.
Other experiments also reveal the same attitude with the Harvard Business Review publishing a report revealing that a decrease from an 8-hour day to a 6 hour day increased productivity. A survey of 3000 employees conducted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos found more than half of full-time workers thought they could do their job in five hours a day.
Despite the abundance of opinions and evidence Microsoft Japan reported the project was just a pilot, commenting it is unclear if these changed will be implemented in offices. However, it plans to run another iteration of the challenge this winter.
A Microsoft spokesman commented
In the spirit of a growth mindset, we are always looking for new ways to innovate and leverage our own technology to improve the experience for our employees around the globe
In other news, Microsoft has been awarded a $10bn technology contract by the Department of Defence.
Image source by CRN Australia