They gave their entire staff of 2,300 employees five Fridays off in a row with no decrease in pay and simply observed the results.
The project was called Work-Life Choice Challenge and occurred last August.
The results were astounding and greater than anyone would have anticipated.
The shortened weeks led to much more efficient meetings; happier, less stressed employees; and productivity was boosted by around 40%. Some other reported benefits of the experiment were: employees took 25% less time off, electricity use was down 23% in the office, 59% fewer pages of paper were printed and 92% said that they preferred the shorter week. Seems like this is just a better idea all around. Takuya Hirano, president and CEO of Microsoft Japan, commented: “Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot. It’s necessary to have an environment that allows you to feel your purpose in life and make a greater impact at work. I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20% less working time.” While these ideas might seem radical to some, it is important to remember that we often think that this is just the way it is, and although many of us feel uninspired, depleted and even dead inside, we just accept that this is our reality because we have been conditioned since birth to believe that this is all there is to life. Thankfully as the older generations step out and retire, we have young and often more innovative minds stepping forward to lead the way. We are also seeing a massive rise of entrepreneurs, web developers and online/remote workers, so this is already changing the landscape of the dreaded 9-5. That said, there are still millions of office jobs around the world stuck in this outdated idea of reality. If people were less stressed, happier, more efficient and had more time to dedicate to doing what they love, they would likely be better workers, with more energy, creativity and drive. It’s a win-win situation and hopefully this idea catches on and other companies large and small will see these benefits and implement these innovative ideas. If Finland goes ahead with this plan proposed by their Prime Minister, it may inspire other countries to give this a try as well. It’s important to remember that things weren’t always as they are now.
These were just systems that were put in place over time and we can certainly change those systems, especially if they are not working for us. Let’s get the conversation started! Try talking to your friends, family and co-workers about it. Bring it up at your next office meeting.
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