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November 06, 2020 4 min read

Business experts claim that it’s much more important to work smartly than work too much. Many offices worldwide have 8-, 12-, and even 16-hour work days and people have to work 5 or 6 days per week. Of course, such a work week eventually leads to extreme fatigue and reduced productivity.  According to research that involved 7,500 employees showed that of them 44% felt burned out at work at times and 23% always or frequently experienced burnout.

That’s the major reason why a growing number of companies, including Microsoft, Wildbit, and Perpetual Guardian start experimenting with 4 day work week. The results of this experiment have already astonished CEOs as they claim that the productivity levels of their employees have increased. Besides, productivity improvement, the 4 day work week helps employees maintain great work-life balance.

 

Microsoft Japan Challenge

In 2019, Microsoft Japan took up a challenge called Work Life Choice Challenge 2019 Summer. Although it was considered a challenge, it was actually a necessity as Japan is known for having some of the longest working hours worldwide. Most employees work more than 80 hours overtime and unpaid each month.

During the challenge, Microsoft Japan offices were closed on Fridays during the month, though employees got paid for those days. At the same time, it was encouraged to have online discussions rather than face-to-face meetings. All face-to-face meetings lasted for less than 30 minutes. Managers also asked employees to cut down time they spend on emails.

As a result, the company reported that sales had been increased by about 40% during the month of a 4 day work week when compared with the previous year. All employees were on full pay and their productivity boosted. The employees had more time for solving their family or personal issues and thus they could fully focus on their jobs.

The interesting fact is, paper printing had been reduced by 59% and electricity consumption by 23% when compared with the previous year. This helped the company to save pretty cash. Microsoft is planning to conduct the 4 day work week challenge again before adopting it permanently.

 

Why is a shorter work week so critical for employees?

It’s not a secret that we spend most of our time in the offices. Not only does it ruin our personal lives, but our health too. The high stress levels triggered by our jobs increase the risk of premature death due to heart disease, depression, and cancer.

A burnout is probably the biggest issue employees experience these days. The chronically exhausted employees keep going to the office and struggle to complete their tasks, but their productivity levels and health issues prevent them from doing their job successfully. Some companies fail because of this and which is why a growing number of corporations worldwide are thinking about a shorter work week.

Microsoft, in particular, experimented with a 4 day work week on full payment. This gave its employees an opportunity to rest, recover, and handle personal issues so that they could return to office and fully concentrate on their tasks.

People who had 3 days off instead of 2 have reported significant well-being improvement. Experts also believe that by reducing a work week single people will have more time for creating families. Happy employees are more productive than depressed one.

However, the company who will adopt a 4 day work week can reap a lot of benefits, too. And it’s not only about increasing the productivity level of employees. The shorter work week has several important business benefits that could help the company grow.

 

What are the business benefits of a shorter work week?

Besides Microsoft Japan, the companies in Sweden and New Zealand proved that a shorter work week has some powerful business advantages. Even though the company has to pay employees for an extra day off, it still faces reduced costs. Since the office is closed for one extra day, less electricity, paper, water, coffee, and other supplies are used. If the company pays employees to commute, one extra day off will help to save here, as well.

Another advantage of a shorter work week is that the company could attract professionals or leave the ones it already has. In a modern, competitive world, it’s hard to find or keep professional employees. By suggesting a flexible work week, the company has more chances of finding experts in their fields.

According to Microsoft’s experiment, a 4 day work week increases the productivity level in the office, which means there’s more chance for the company to achieve success and thrive in the highly competitive business world.

 

How will a shorter work week impact holiday entitlement payment?

The question is tricky as holiday entitlement payment mainly depends on an employer. One employer might give you the legal minimum while another one might add some extra days. With a shorter work week, an employer is more likely to give you the legal minimum that equals 22 to 23 days. A 5 day work week provides 28 days annually.

However, if an employer pays you for the extra day off, they might also want to give you all 28 days annual leave. The shorter work week is still tested so employees can receive more information during an interview.

 

Final word

Microsoft is definitely not the single company that demonstrated the productivity and health benefits of a 4 day work week. There are several companies, such as Perpetual Garden, which adopted shorter work weeks permanently. Employers confess that happier employees are more productive. A three-day weekend is more likely to keep employees focused and motivated.

Not to mention that employees will have more time to recover, rest, re-charge, and handle family issues. With a longer weekend, employees will have more time to spend with their family and friends as well as find a hobby and do things they love. This will ward off stress, anxiety, and depression, which usually affect our productivity.