The workforce of the modern-day is rife with every kind of problem you can imagine. Thanks to rapidly changing economies and start-up hubs starting up in every major city around the world, the one-size-fits-all employment contract that determines the hours and output exchanged for salary is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Quite a few companies are now enjoying the freedom of experimenting with their job requirements…some with better results than others.
Despite the different faces of so many different occupations, there still doesn’t seem to be one winning set of circumstances. People are overworked and overtired, or overworked and underpaid, or underpaid and underslept. And they’re all complaining about it. So the researchers research on to find out what ratio of work and pay create a healthy, productive employee. Microsoft is one company leading the movement for improved working conditions.
And Microsoft’s Japan branch has just taken a step in what seems to be the right direction, according to the results.
The company recently engaged in a month-long experiment they dubbed the Summer 2019 Work-Life Choice Challenge, which shifted all of their employees to a four-day work week. For the whole month, the entire company had Fridays off – without any pay deduction. It was certainly a risk, but one they committed themselves to, trusting that things couldn’t get too much worse in the short time period. But the company was happily surprised to find that things didn’t get worse at all.
In fact, productivity was at 140% what it had been only one month before. And on top of that, their employees reported being happier, and noticing more efficiency in their meetings.
An even more surprising perspective measured the operational costs of the challenge, which fared very well compared to a normal month: the building consumed 23% less electricity, and collectively reduced paper consumption by 60%. So, the company had a higher work output, with lower operational costs? That’s something to chew on.
Upon publishing the results of their summer challenge, Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano said: “Work a short time, rest well, and learn a lot. I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20% less working time.”