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Microsoft: how the experiment of reducing the work week to 4 days boosted the productivity and sales of the tech giant 40% in Japan

Zoe Kleinman, BBC News

Microsoft: how the experiment of reducing the work week to 4 days boosted the productivity and sales of the tech giant 40% in Japan

An experiment with unexpected results. This could qualify the decision of Microsoft Japan to free their workers every Friday in August.

Going from a five-day work week to four without reducing the salary of its employees reported to the tech giant a sales increase of almost 40% during the experiment.

In addition to Friday off, full-time staff received a “special license,” which was paid.

The duration of the meetings was also limited – maximum 30 minutes – and staff were encouraged to do them online instead of face to face.

And Japan has some of the longest working hours in the world.

In 2017, a survey revealed that almost a quarter of Japanese companies had employees who worked more than 80 extra hours per month, often without pay.

«Smart Rest»

92% of the staff of Microsoft Japan joined the experiment, which was carried out during last austral summer under the Work Life Choice Challenge2019 program (The challenge of the choice of working life 2019).

During the test and in comparison to the same month of the previous year, electricity consumption was reduced by 23% and printing on paper by 59%, the company explained.

The tech giant said it planned to implement a second Work Life Choice Challenge this winter.

However, he said that this time he would not offer the same “special license,” but that he would encourage staff to take time off to “rest intelligently,” he said.

Upside down movement

In contrast, Jack Ma, co-founder of Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba, has defended the 12-hour workdays.

In April 2019 he spoke of the well-known pattern «996», in which the workers take turns from 09:00 to 21:00 hours six days a week, as «a blessing».

«If you enter Alibaba, you have to be willing to work 12 hours a day. If not, what are you coming for? We don’t need those who work eight hours comfortably, ”said Ma.

His vision found support in another technology entrepreneur, Richard Liu, founder of the online store JD.com, who claimed that his company had been filled with “loafers” for which he felt no sympathy.

The case of the United Kingdom

Meanwhile, a report commissioned by the Labor Party in the United Kingdom suggested that a four-day work week would be “unrealistic.”

“Although some people are forced to work less hours than they want, most are forced to work more hours than they want,” says the report published in September.

Many workers believe that having a part-time job or reducing their days means having the same volume of work but in less time.

Rodrigo Cordero
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