Microsoft Japan made news recently when the results of its four-day working week experiment were made public.
Attempting to combat a culture of overworking and burnout, the company implemented a four-day working week, and productivity boomed. Employees were also encouraged to have fewer meetings, set a half-hour time cap, and limit meetings to a maximum of five people.
Not only did employees have more efficient meetings and take less time off, but costs declined, and 92% of workers said they preferred the change. Productivity skyrocketed by a whopping 40%, while the offices used 23% less electricity and 59% fewer print pages.
The idea of working less time for the same level of productivity is not a new one.
During the Industrial Revolution, Henry Ford shocked company owners and made headlines by reducing his employees’ working week from six days to five without docking salary. Thus, the 40-hour working week was born.
For two months in 1974, UK government officials dropped the working week to a mere three days, but found productivity only dropped 6%.
In Utah in 2008 and 2009, dropping to a four-day working week for public employees made them more productive and less likely to miss work, and ultimately saved the state more than four million US dollars.
A Swedish nursing home trialled six-hour workdays between 2015 and 2017 and found employees reported greater satisfaction and alertness, while sick leave dropped 10%.
Financial solutions company Collins SBA switched to a five-hour workday in 2015 to great success. Sick leave went down, meetings were shorter, and benchmarks were higher.
Can’t reduce your hours? There are other ways to DO MORE.
That’s not to say this idea of working less time would work for every company. Collins SBA notes that some employees did not adjust to the change and decided to leave, while Microsoft Japan has opted not to permanently implement the four-day working week.
However, there is certainly something to be said for finding more time-efficient ways of doing the same jobs! Everyone’s sat through a meeting that could have been an email or a memo, while outdated technology or bugs can be the bane of a productive working day.
Our driving philosophy here at Typefi is to help people working in publishing production to DO MORE using less of their time, with the resources they already have.
For example, in 2009, The Institutes—a US-based educational provider for professional development—replaced a time-consuming and tedious manual publishing process with a solution that integrated their content management system with DITA XML and Typefi.
The combination of efficient content management and intelligent publishing automation enabled The Institutes to increase production output by 1900%—and offer customised content on-demand—all with the same staffing resources!
Jim Cain, Solution Architect at Jacquette Consulting, worked with The Institutes to overhaul their publishing system a decade ago. At the 2019 Typefi User Conference, he shared that the system is still working and evolving with the needs of the business.
“All of this takes very little time as compared to what they used to do manually. They could do three, maybe four products in a given year,” Jim said.
“I’ve seen years since where they’ve had over 150 products come out the door in a given year, so that 1900%, that’s a conservative number. The business has the flexibility to change as they need to change now, and they have changed.”
In the end, none could say it better than Henry Ford, one of the earliest change-makers to the working week: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”
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