Nov 4, 2019

Microsoft saw 40% productivity spike with 4-day workweek trial

Microsoft store in New York City. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Microsoft held a four-day workweek experiment in Japan this summer and reported that its workers' productivity spiked despite spending less time at work, according to CNN.

Why it matters: Microsoft shut down its offices in Japan every Friday in August, and the technology company said the extra day off boosted productivity by 40% — measured by sales per employee — compared to the same period the previous year.

Details: The company this summer introduced the "Work Life Choice Challenge" and gave all employees an extra day off each week. Managers also encouraged workers to spend less time in meetings or checking and responding to emails.

By the numbers: "More than 90% of Microsoft's 2,280 employees in Japan later said they were impacted by the new measures," according to CNN.

  • The company saved money on electricity and other resources by shutting down a day earlier each week.

What's next: Microsoft said it will conduct another experiment in Japan later this year and will ask employees to come up with new ways to improve work-life balance and efficiency. It will ask other companies to join the experiment.

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Yahoo Japan and Line Corp. representatives hold a joint press conference, Nov. 18. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Yahoo Japan, which is controlled by SoftBank, agreed to merge with Japanese messaging app operator Line Corp., which is controlled by Naver Corp. The combined company would be worth around $30 billion.

Why it matters: This will create Japan's largest internet services company by revenue and gives it scale to better compete against Chinese rivals in Southeast Asia.

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An uncertain future for workers

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DETROIT, Mich. — There's no better symbol of what the American worker's life used to look like than Detroit: A stable, lifelong career at a booming factory, a union membership and a pension.

The big picture: Workers' lives in the future won't look like that. Already, new technologies and the gig economy are breaking down those very forces of stability that defined jobs over the last century — and the future of workers hangs in the balance.

Go deeperArrowNov 13, 2019

Tech's new labor unrest

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The tech industry was born largely union-free, but there are signs its long management-worker harmony may be ending.

Driving the news: Companies big and small have been making headlines more commonly associated with old-line manufacturing firms than tech giants.

Go deeperArrowNov 22, 2019