3-day weekend good for you, and your employer

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Microsoft Japan’s 4-day work week trial
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Microsoft Japan’s 4-day work week trial

Employees who work less might actually be working smarter, according to Microsoft Japan. The company trialled a four-day workweek this summer as part of its Work-Life Choice Challenge. The project allowed employees at its Tokyo headquarters to have Fridays off in August, and they were given “special paid leave” in exchange. The firm also implemented a “support programme” for its employees, which included travel-related expenses and workshops, as part of the short-term trial.

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Interesting results
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Interesting results

Microsoft announced last week that the programme saw the number of interesting results compared to the year prior, including The number of workdays was reduced by 25%; The number of papers printed was reduced by 58%; Electricity consumption was reduced by 23%. In addition, the company also said that productivity rose by roughly 40%, with 92% of employees saying they were happy with the programme by the end of its run.

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Does overtime equal productivity?
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Does overtime equal productivity?

The programme has made waves in Japan, which has some of the longest working hours in the world. According to a 2016 government study, nearly one in four Japanese companies require employees to work a staggering 80 hours of overtime per month, CNBC reported. And those overtime hours do not necessarily result in better work. According to the Oecd Compendium of Productivity Indicators, Japan ranks the lowest in productivity among G-7 nations.

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'Longer weekend a key to happiness'
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'Longer weekend a key to happiness'

But the country has taken note. According to Japan Times, a Japanese labour ministry survey revealed that the number of major privately-held companies in 2018 that implemented a four-day workweek rose to almost 7% — more than double the number of businesses with a four-day workweek from a decade ago. The issue of a four-day workweek has become a hot-button issue in recent years. In New Zealand, a firm called Perpetual Guardian trialled the four-day workweek and noticed its staff were happier, more creative, more punctual, and more productive.

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4-day workweek makes employees focused!
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4-day workweek makes employees focused!

Economists have recently argued that a four-day workweek allows employees to focus their attention more effectively, and create a better sense of work-life balance. Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders even said in October that a shorter workweek was an idea that his campaign was investigating in order to improve the well-being of Americans. “Shortening the workweek is certainly one idea that we have got to look at,” Sanders said.

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