Have you ever thought about what our work life would be like if we only worked four times a week?.
The Woman Post | Jorge Francisco Vuelvas Lomeli
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This experiment was recently carried out by Microsoft: it managed to increase labor productivity by 40%, reducing the workweek to four days.
The balance between personal life and work life is a subject that has been tried to approach from different perspectives. Governments have done the same by modifying the laws on the matter, in order to demand better benefits for workers; however, little has been analyzed about a paradigm shift in working hours.
It is interesting to note that an initiative of this magnitude is proposed by the private sector, and in the particular case, by a giant technology company.
The test was part of Microsoft's "Work and Life Choice Challenge," which was a summer project designed to verify work-life balance. It was aimed at helping increase creativity and productivity by providing employees with shorter work hours than usual and with greater flexibility.
The company stated that in Japan they closed every Friday of August 2019, and the results showed that employee productivity increased by 39.9%, compared to the productivity registered in August 2018.
In addition to this, the company reduced the time of work meetings and implemented remote communication between work teams.
The experiment carried out by Microsoft is not unique in the world. Andrew Barnes, founder of Perpetual Garden, a New Zealand real estate planning company, said he conducted a similar experiment and found that it benefits both employees and the company. He has permanently adopted a four-day workweek.
Also, in a 2018 study of nearly 3,000 workers in eight countries at the Kronos Institute for Labor Research and Future Workplaces, most people said their ideal workweek was 4 days or less.
In Latin America, the Mexican businessman Carlos Slim stated in 2016 that even the working week should be three days; however, he affirmed that this process should take place gradually.
He also clarified that he considered that "the companies that can adopt this proposal are those in which productivity has generated an excess of personnel, such as government agencies, where such a program could be implemented, instead of cutting personnel, and with it, you avoid having to pay when workers retire early.”
About executives, Slim pointed out that "you can't have a CEO for three days and another for the rest, but senior managers change with some frequency, not as often as a [soccer] coach, but you know what I say. Executives move forward, and CEOs and presidents retire relatively early and make room for new people."
Finally, in the experiment that was already carried out at Microsoft, it was determined that not only employees benefited from the experiment four days a workweek; it was found that it also helped preserve electricity and office resources. The number of printed pages decreased by 58.7%, while electricity consumption was reduced by 23.1% compared to August 2018, the company said.
Undoubtedly, this is an experiment that should already provoke interest in our Latin American region, especially at this time where, for health reasons, most companies have had to experiment with remote work and cut workers' working hours.
In addition to this, it would be an innovative paradigm in the workplace that can lead to an improvement in the mental health of workers and increase the levels of happiness in families.