The Japanese branch of the US multinational conducted an experiment in August that saw a 40 per cent increase in productivity despite giving Fridays off. Japan has a very high rate of suicide, largely due to stress caused by overwork and extreme social competitiveness.
Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Microsoft’s Japanese branch cut working hours and improved productivity.
Last August the US multinational carried out an experiment by reducing the workweek by one day for 2,300 regular office workers whilst maintaining their weekly salary.
Productivity increased by 40 per cent, with about 92 per cent of employees responding favourably to the four-day workweek.
In addition, the experiment saw a 39.9 per cent increase in sales per worker, and 58.7 per cent and 23.1 per cent drops in the amount of paper used for printing documents or used in copy machines and in electricity consumption respectively.
Asked what day they would like to take off if a four-day week was introduced, 51 per cent said Wednesday.
To raise productivity, Microsoft management also asked workers to communicate more often via an online chat tool instead of having meetings and sending emails.
Even when they had physical meetings, workers were asked to finish them within 30 minutes in principle and limit the number of participants to five at the most.
This reduced the level of stress caused by workplace overwork. Because of the latter, many workers take their own lives.
According to government figures for 2017, over 20 per cent of Japanese employees work at least 80 hours of overtime per month. And half of all respondents said they didn't take paid vacations.