Japanese citizens have suffered ill health often due to excessive work and have experienced the world’s longest working hours.
Work-Life Choice Challenge 2019 was a trial introduced by Microsoft Japan through reduction of working hours to provide a better work environment. Japanese citizens have suffered ill health often due to excessive work and have experienced the world’s longest working hours. It has led to a labour shortage and the problem of an ageing population. It has plagued the nation for a while with no clear solution in sight. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has advocated for workplace flexibility and reduction in overtime drawing mixed reviews for the same.
Amidst this, Microsoft, the US tech giant declared that a four-day workweek trial led to a 40 per cent boost in productivity.
Friday was a day off for all employees. Full-time employees also received special paid leaves. Meetings were also held online instead of face to face and the latter ones held were cut short as reported by BBC. Few employees such as the Managers were initially sceptical of the changes in the work style and were concerned about the effect of shorter workweeks on their clients.
In order to promote balance between work life, assistance was offered by the company for family vacations. Travel expenses were also covered in a similar manner.
The experiment yielded positive results. Sales per employee increased by almost 40 per cent in August from the previous year. According to AFP even the paper use was cut in half with consumption of electricity down a quarter as well. The trial was held in August and was the summer version. 92 per cent of Microsoft Japan staff believed the trial to be a success.