Microsoft Japan has instituted a new policy of a four-day week in beta. The results, in spite of what you may think, were actually quite surprising. Instead of a drop in productivity the company's experiment resulted in a 40 percent boost in productivity. Microsoft is not the first to try this, but it is the first corporation of its size to do so.
This is in response to an endemic problem of overwork in Japan. A series of deaths and suicides that were the result of overworking employees spurred Japanase government and corporations to reevaluate their current work policy.
On the heels of a series of suicides from seriously overworked employees－encouraged to push themselves ever further－spending more and more time at work, rather than getting the rest they need, a spotlight was shown on the problem in 2015 when an employee of a Japanese advertising company took their own life.
The Japanese government has also promoted "Premium Fridays" which encourages office workers to take off an hour early on the last friday of every month. Only time will tell if the culture of overwork changes. The companies also advised employees to shorten business meetings to around half an hour.
The perceived impact by employees of the policy in Microsoft's almost 2400 person Japan office was around 90 percent. The results were surprising and it may indicate a growing trend in Japan to combat the culture of overwork, but only time will tell. According to CNN, Microsoft will perform another experiment in their Japan office later this year with the possibility of asking other large companies to follow suit in their efforts.