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Microsoft: Four-week work program brings positive signs in Japan

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Hailey Warner
Hailey isn't the biggest fan of Winter, but she's doing her best to embrace the cold weather and snow. You can find her trying out new recipes, playing squash or writing editorials.

Radical attempt of Microsoft in Japan for introducing a short four-week work has proven effective in boosting sales and savings.

The radical idea was implemented by the US IT giant Microsoft in Japan, which has been working hard to close business every Friday since August, giving its 2,300 employees a special leave.

It also limits meeting time to a maximum of 30 minutes and promotes online conversations as an alternative to face-to-face communication.

“Sales per Microsoft employee in Japan increased by almost 40 percent in August over the past year”

Participation in each meeting was limited to just five people and employees were encouraged to use online communication instead of email, he said.

Read also: Shinzo Abe reshuffles Japanese Cabinet, Shinjiro Koizumi appointed as environment minister

The results have been very positive, with sales per employee increasing by almost 40 percent in August over the past year. Electricity consumption was also reduced to the quarter in addition to reduced paper consumption by half.

The firm said the experiment showed workers wanted more options to perform their tasks and by adopting a more comprehensive model could improve efficiency.

“US tech. Giant has initiated the program to address the issue of ‘karoshi’ or death as a result of overworked and encouraging couples to have children in a struggling country with a declining population”

Microsoft plans to launch the same program this winter, but will not offer a special leave. Instead, workers will be encouraged to use existing leave, he said.

The program was introduced as the Japanese government focused on more flexible work practices, prompting enterprises to embrace telecommunications, different part-time work schedules and commute beyond peak hours.

This effort is part of an attempt to address the issue of ‘karoshi’ or death as a result of overworked and encouraging couples to have children in a struggling country with a declining population.

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