The company introduced a program this summer in Japan called the “Work Life Choice Challenge,” which shut down its offices every Friday in August and gave all employees an extra day off each week.
In addition to reducing working hours, managers urged staff to cut down on the time they spent in meetings and responding to emails.
They suggested that meetings should last no longer than 30 minutes. Employees were also encouraged to cut down on meetings altogether by using an online messaging app (Microsoft’s, of course).
The effects were widespread. More than 90% of Microsoft’s 2,280 employees in Japan later said they were impacted by the new measures, according to the company.
By shutting down earlier each week, the company was also able to save on other resources, such as electricity.
Microsoft, for its part, says it will conduct another experiment in Japan later this year. It plans to ask employees to come up with new measures to improve work-life balance and efficiency, and will also ask other companies to join the initiative.