Imagine going to work just 4 days a week and spending a 3-day weekend resting, going out and spending time with your family. How would it feel like?
Microsoft Japan tried out a new management strategy for the entire August 2019 and saw an astounding 40% boost in the productivity of their employees. They called it “Work-Life Choice Challenge 2019 Summer”. For the entire month of August, the employees at Microsoft Japan continued to receive a five-day paycheck while enjoying their weekend, starting Thursday evening. Further, there was no compromise in their wages.
This was not a spontaneous decision. Earlier this year, Microsoft had declared a challenge to “work in a short time, take a rest, learn well“. In April, they had stated that they will be trying out this new management strategy to test whether a 4-day week impacts their worker’s productivity. They began working on this project from April 2019.
Another reason behind implementing this project was to provide employees of Microsoft Japan an opportunity to have their own schedule– based on their circumstances. Not every employee has a similar life situation. A traditional 5-day work week may be fitting for some but not for all. Particularly, the ones with side businesses and other personal obligations.
Meetings were reduced from customary 60-minutes to 30-minutes
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Before this “4 days a week trial”, all meetings were customarily set to 60 minutes, that too without assessing the agenda behind it. Not all meetings last full 60-minutes. If the meeting was to finish within an hour–which it did quite often–employees had to wait out till the time was up.
All over the globe, meetings at Microsoft workplaces are set for 30-minutes initially. They are stretched only when needed. So, this change had to be made regardless of the trial.
Furthermore, there is a very distinct culture in Japan that summons all the employees–irrespective of their job role– to attend the board meetings. Even the stat shows that “the employees of Microsoft Japan hold 11% more meetings than the global Microsoft average“. In this trial, the number of people attending a meeting was restricted up to 5.
Usage of a Group Chat software, Microsoft Teams was favored instead of standard emails
Sending an email can take up more time than you estimate. First, the sender has to login to his/her account, type a well-structured message and then send it to the recipient. However, with a group chat software like “Microsoft Teams”, a sender can send text messages or files with a click of a mouse. This reform was implemented immediately and a massive boost in productivity was observed.
What were the fruits of Microsoft Japan’s “Work-Life Choice Challenge 2019 Summer”?
1) Compared to the previous few months, there was a 58.7% reduction in the number of pages printed in August 2019.
2) Due to 4-day work weeks and reduction in usage of printing machines, there was a 23.1% cut in power consumption in August 2019.
3) Compared to the data collected in August 2018, labor productivity increased by 39.9% in August 2019.
4) There was a 21% increase in the Remote conference” implementation ratio. More people favored remote meetings over facing each other in person.
5) Also, there was a 10% increase in personal exchanges in August 2019. More people were able to network and socialize within the workplace.