Last August, all Microsoft Japan employees attended the "Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019," where they held all of their meetings within 30 minutes or less. Wherever possible, personal conversations have been replaced by virtual ones – most importantly – they have not worked on five consecutive Fridays.
According to Bloomberg, switching to a four-day workweek increased sales per employee by 40 percent, and 92 percent of workers liked the shorter work week.
Although improving productivity and morale were the most notable benefits of the program, they were not the only ones. Microsoft Japan also reported a 23% decline in power consumption and a 59% decline in printed pages.
Bloomberg explains that Japan has some of the longest working hours in the world, also because low birth rates lead to a labor shortage. The pressure to work overtime is so widespread in Japan that employees even coined the term "death by overwork" . Unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration. According to Business Insider, employees have died of heart failure. To fight the current culture, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for a reduction in overtime and a better work-life balance. At Microsoft's instigation, there is hope that standards can be changed without compromising corporate performance.
Microsoft Japan plans to launch a similar program this winter, but the company does not mandate certain days off as paid time allowings. Encourage only employees to take their own holidays.
While your employer may not necessarily organize programs that help you achieve a better work-life balance, there are definitely improvements you can make to your own ̵