The four-day work week is pretty damn appealing if you happen to work five days a week, but few seem to take the idea very seriously. While the UK Labor Party (currently in opposition) have toyed with the idea of adopting it as official policy, and US Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has "looked at" the idea, the four-day work week feels like one of those pipe dreams that won't materialise any time soon.
And yet, a recent trial by Microsoft Japan has demonstrated that it not only makes employees happier (who would have thought?) but it also increases productivity by as much as 40 percent. According to a report by Microsoft Japan (via The Guardian (opens in new tab)), those impressive stats are just the start: employees took far less time off, fewer pages were printed, less electricity was wasted, and a (less surprising) 92 percent of employees said they liked the arrangement.
As the Guardian points out there have been other experiments, by other companies, with tweaking the length of work days and the length of work weeks, and all have tended to have positive results for employee and employer alike.
It clearly doesn't mean the employee's workload has decreased, however, but the added breathing room, added with the effect that you're not chained to a desk for the vast majority of your life, probably makes it easier to be more productive during work hours. "I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20% less working time,” Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano wrote in the report.