Whenever a reputable company finds success implementing a new system, we all take notice. Such is the case with Microsoft Japan. This past August, they implemented a four day work week for the entire month as a part of a new “work life choice” strategy. The results were staggering- a 40% increase in production per employee on average and a 94% satisfaction rate with the experiment among employees.

This latest information from a leading company begs the question- what do we have to gain from shortening the work week?  

Increased productivity: As highlighted above, the area of the four day work week experiment that is gaining the most headline attention is the jump in productivity. The surprising stats dispel the assumption that more time spent in the office translates to higher productivity, and supports the belief that productivity is more about the quality of time spent at work rather than the quantity.

Job satisfaction: With 94% employee satisfaction with the experiment, it is clear that a four day work week could not only add to overall job satisfaction, but also improve employee retention rates while creating a more positive company culture. Current employees will obtain a better work/life balance, and the shorter week will ultimately attract top talent to the companies that adopt it.

Fewer resources: Although it is simple math, it is worth mentioning that less time spent in the office means fewer resources used. As a result of taking five Fridays off in the month of August, Microsoft Japan found that there were 60% fewer pages printed during the month. In addition, during Microsoft Japan’s experiment last summer, their energy consumption dropped by 23%. If your company is struggling to find ways to cut costs while maintaining high productivity, a four day work week may be worth trying.

Shorter meeting times: One unexpected benefit that came from Microsoft Japan’s four day work week trial was shorter meetings. With one less day in the work week, Microsoft Japan decided that meeting times should be cut in half (30 minutes or less), and only the employees that were crucial to the meeting should be in attendance. Utilizing other means of communication such as email were encouraged to keep employees focused on their work, not spending time in meetings.

There is a lot to unpack when considering moving to a four day work week. However, companies like Microsoft have shown that from productivity to job satisfaction, there appear to be benefits to changing how much time we spend at the office. In the future, expect to see companies that implement this new system having a competitive edge in recruiting new employees and retaining top talent.