As part of its 'Work Life Choice Challenge', tech giant Microsoft introduced a test initiative for the month of August - closing up shop on Fridays, while providing paid leave for all full-time employees.
The result? A staggering jump of 39.9% in productivity figures, compared to August 2018. If any HR managers are reading this, take note - here's something to bring up during next week's meeting.
Why do we work five days a week, anyway?
With no natural phenomenon occurring every seven days, there doesn't seem to be any obvious answer - and the truth truly is out of this world. According to the ancient Babylonians, the universe contained 7 planets - one planet for each day. You can see a similar idea originate separately in ancient India as well - where each day of the week corresponds to a planet. Therefore, the idea is quite old, originating in at least the 8th century B.C.
The origin of the 'weekend' is Biblical in nature, and actually comes quite early in the Bible.
"And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation."-Genesis 2:1-3
As the 7-day week spread to Europe through trade, conquest and cultural mixing, it became a staple of western economies throughout history. As the world became more and more industrialised, especially in England, more and more workers began to use the seventh day of the week not for rest, as suggested by scripture, but for fun and large amounts of drinking - this resulted in thousands of hungover workers not showing up on Mondays. The solution? Providing them with half-days off on Saturday, in exchange for guaranteed attendance on Mondays.
And so, the Saturday-Sunday weekend was born.4-Day Weeks And Productivity
The push for 4-day weeks is nothing new. Perhaps the most widely documented case study was undertaken by New Zealand's Andrew Barnes- a case for a sustainable, productive future where we work less and live more, after enforcing four day work weeks at his own company, Perpetual Guardian. While most reports were positive, some employees admitted that adjusting to the new system was taxing and made working around deadlines particularly difficult.
Reports such as these pop-up every now and then in the news, but our economies are far too used to the current pattern, and large-scale change is probably going to remain a dream.
Still, despite criticism, there definitely is a growing movement that hopes to cut down hours spent at work, and provide both employees and companies with efficient and helpful routines, that also bring down company expenses. According to the report, Microsoft preserved electricity and resources as well during the experiment - the company cut down on the number of pages printed at work by a significant 58.7% and cut electricity consumption by 23.1%.
Looking for a 4-day work week yourself? Tag your colleagues in the comments and start a revolution!