We got lost somewhere along the way to success, America. We downloaded Gmail on our phones. We got excited about the office ping-pong table. When a YouTube influencer with nice biceps rambled on about "the grind," we liked and subscribed. Now we're working over 50 hours a week on average, and everyone is sad (just read Twitter). So Microsoft decided to do something about it, by implementing a four-day workweek in Japan. Productivity jumped 40%.
Microsoft introduced the adjusted work week as a program called the "Work Life Choice Challenge," which was basically just giving people the day off every Friday, under the guise of a "challenge." Very American. They were encouraged to spend less time using email, and to keep meetings under 30 minutes.
The results were striking: Of the 2,280 employees involved, over 90% claimed to be impacted by the changes. Japan has one of the longest workweeks in the world, and guilt over taking vacation days runs rampant. Microsoft plans to run another workweek experiment in Japan later this year, focusing again on work-life balance and efficiency.
Whole countries have been doing this for a while. People in the Netherlands, for example, work an average of 29 hours a week. Oftentimes they do not work on Fridays, or they leave earlier than Americans most days to enjoy social activities with friends. It's bizarre, as if life is meant to be enjoyed.
And for the rest of you? You'll just have to stick to your self-imposed 30 minute YouTube breaks for now.