Time Well Spent

November 15, 2019
Engagement & Retention
Total Rewards
Time Away From Work
Read time: 2 mins

What would you do with an extra free day every week? Not an hour, or an afternoon, but an entire day! The possibilities are endless – you could actually make it to the gym, clean the house, see a friend for lunch, jump on that list of projects you never seem to have time for, try a new recipe, nap … a whole day every week.

Technology giant Microsoft closed its offices every Friday at its Japan subsidiary this past August and found that productivity increased by 40 percent compared to August 2018. During this time, full-time employees were paid for a five-day workweek.

Free time

The trial was part of Microsoft's "Work-Life Choice Challenge," which looked at work-life balance and hoped to boost creativity and productivity by giving employees more flexible working hours.

The company also reduced time spent in meetings by starting a 30-minute meeting limit and encouraging remote communication.

It’s like heaven on earth.

Microsoft benefitted in many ways. In addition to the increased productivity, the company found that there was a 59 percent decrease of pages being printed, and electricity use was down by 23 percent.

A shorter workweek is high on many (many) people’s wish list. In fact, last year, a study of nearly 3,000 people in eight countries by the Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace reported their ideal workweek would be four days or less.

Microsoft isn't the first to highlight the productivity benefits of a four-day workweek. Andrew Barnes, founder of Perpetual Garden, a New Zealand estate-planning firm, said he tried out a similar experiment and found that it benefited both employees and the company, according to CNBC. Perpetual Garden has since permanently adopted a four-day workweek.

The four-day workweek. An opportunity for the craziness of life to become a little more gentle and kind, while employee engagement and loyalty shoot through the roof. Everyone wins. Who’s in?