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Microsoft switched to a 4-day-work-week and the results were eye-opening

"We should work to live, not live to work."

Microsoft switched to a 4-day-work-week and the results were eye-opening
via Anadirc / Flickr

We spend roughly one-third of our life asleep, another third at work and the final third trying our best to have a little fun.

But is that the correct balance? Should we spend as much time at the office as we do with our friends and family? One of the greatest regrets people have on their deathbeds is that they spent too much of their time instead of enjoying quality time with friends and family.

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom have made a significant pledge to reevaluate the work-life balance in their country.

Last month, Britain's shadow chancellor John McDonnell announced that the British Labour Party would reduce the standard working week to 32 hours, without loss of pay, within 10 years of winning office.

"We should work to live, not live to work," McDonnell said.

The pledge came after a report released by Robert Skidelsky that claims shorter working weeks would be a win-win for companies and employees alike because it improves productivity and personal well-being.

People should have to work less for a living. Having to work less at what one needs to do, and more at what one wants to do, is good for material and spiritual well-being. Reducing working time - the time one has to work to keep 'body and soul alive' — is thus a valuable ethical objective.

Americans aren't completely opposed to the idea either.

A study reported by NBC found that 40% of Americans would prefer a four-day work week over the standard five-day calendar in place now, as long as their pay remained the same.

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The idea is slowly catching on with businesses as well. Fifteen percent of organizations offer four-day weeks of 32 hours or less for at least some of their employees, which is up from 13% in 2017.

It seems pretty obvious that most employees would be happier if they worked less and spent more time and energy on personal pursuits. But how does reducing the amount of time people spend in the office actually boost productivity?

via JC / Flickr

An eye-opening study from Microsoft study from Microsoft conducted at a subsidiary in Japan found that implementing a four-day workweek led to a nearly 40% boost in productivity.

Microsoft Japan closed its offices every Friday in August of this year to see how it affected productivity year-over-year. The study showed that productivity was 39.8% higher in August 2019 over August 2018.

The study also found that closing one day a week preserved office resources as well.

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In August 2019, the number of pages printed decreased by 58.7% and electricity consumption was 23.1% lower as well.

So does this mean that working 32 hours a week is a magical point where workers are able to be more productive due to an increase in personal well-being?

More studies are required to find out whether Microsoft's results are repeated in other types of businesses. But it's an important topic to study in a world where automation threatens jobs and more and more people are realizing that a major key to happiness is finding the correct balance between work and play.

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