Sales jump 40% by switching to a 4-day week
Friday 13 Dec 2019
• The program involved giving employees five consecutive Fridays off, cutting the duration of meetings, and encouraging online chats instead of face-to-face ones.
• Some research echoes Microsoft Japan's recent report, suggesting that cutting the workweek can boost productivity.
What's one way for a tech company to boost sales, increase employee satisfaction and cut overhead costs? Switch to a four-day workweek.
That's the takeaway of a new report from Microsoft Japan, which recently wrapped up its experimental "Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019." The experiment involved giving employees five consecutive Fridays off with pay, limiting meetings to 30 minutes or fewer, and encouraging online messaging as opposed to face-to-face chats.
In addition, some employees worked three-day weeks and were allowed to work remotely. The company also provided financial assistance to employees for "expenses related to self-development, family travel expenses, social contribution activities, etc."
In the new report, Microsoft Japan compared data on sales performance and other metrics from this summer to the same months last year. Compared to August 2018, the results showed:
• Number of pages printed in August 2019: -58.7%
• Rise in sales per employees in August 2019: +39.9%
• Amount of "30-minute meetings" in August 2019: +46%
About 92 percent of employees said they liked switching to the four-day workweek. That's perhaps unsurprising for a company based in Japan, where the severe work culture requires many people to work overtime for little to no extra pay, leaving them dangerously exhausted.
In fact, being overworked to death — by stroke, heart attack, etc. — is common enough that the Japanese have a word for it: karoshi. There's also a word for workers who commit suicide due to work-related stress: karojisatsu.
Stories of karoshi and karojisatsu — such as a 31-year-old journalist who logged 159 hours of overtime in the month before she died of heart failure — have helped to prompt Japan to pass laws promoting work-life balance, including caps on overtime hours. Still, critics of Japan's work culture argue the regulations — some of which allow employees to work 100 hours of overtime in a month — don't go far enough.
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