Microsoft Japan has tested a four-day workweek and discovered that it has boosted employee productivity.
The tech company recorded an almost 40 per cent increase in productivity after cutting working hours in a bid to promote a healthier work-life balance.
The Work Life Choice Challenge initiative was started back in August, and saw the firm shutter its doors on Fridays to give its 2,300 employees three-day weekends for an entire month to track any benefits of a reduced workweek.
Over the period, though staff spent 20 per cent less time in the office, productivity rose by 39.9 per cent - as measured by sales per employee. According to Microsoft, this was partially due to the fact that meetings were capped at 30 minutes, and there was an increase in remote conferences. At the same time, the company saw a decrease in costs, with 23.1 per cent less electricity used, and 58.7 per cent fewer pages printed.
Unsurprisingly, the scheme - which also incorporated self development and family wellness initiatives - was a hit with employees, with 92.1 per cent saying that they liked having three-day weekends.
In fact, the Work Life Choice Challenge was such a success that Microsoft Japan is planning to conduct a similar scheme this winter, with an emphasis on flexible working hours.
Overwork has been a subject of debate in Japan for a number of years, as the country is known to have one of the world's longest working hours. Per a 2016 government study, almost a quarter of Japanese countries require their employees to work more than 80 hours of overtime each month.
The nation even has its own term for the culture - "karoshi" - which translates to "death by overwork".
Commenting on the findings, Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), stated;
"In the 19th century, unions campaigned for an eight-hour day. In the 20th century, we won the right to a two-day weekend and paid holidays. So, for the 21st century, let's lift our ambition again. I believe that in this century we can win a four-day working week, with decent pay for everyone. It's time to share the wealth from new technology, not allow those at the top to grab it for themselves."