Microsoft Japan experiments with 3 day weekends

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Japan is known for having some of the longest working hours in the world, with nearly a quarter of Japanese companies previously requiring employees to clock in more than 80 hours of overtime a month, according to a 2016 government survey. They were so long that Japan introduced a new law this year limiting legal overtime work 45 hours a month.

Microsoft Japan is working to break that trend, thanks to a bold new strategy it hopes will improve the work-life balance of its workers by implementing a three-day weekend for its employees. They found that when the company decreased hours of its workweek, productivity actually increased.

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The company carried out a ‘Working Reform Project’ called the Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019 for one month – giving 2,300 employees every Friday off. This ‘special paid holiday’ did not come at the expense of any other holiday time.The results showed that productivity went up by a staggering 39.9 percent.

Employees also took 25.4 per cent fewer days off during the month and used 23.1 percent less electricity in the office which saved the company money. Much of the increase in productivity was attributed to the changing of meetings.

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