Microsoft in Japan tested a four-day work week and productivity jumped by 40%.

Paulo Saldanha Santos, Partner at Voltarion, compared this experiment with the reduction of working hours from 40 to 35 in the Portuguese civil service and wondered if it worked in the same way for Portugal.

Although it is nothing new, on a recent trip to Japan I was fascinated to see the objectivity, rigour and commitment with which the general public went about their day-to-day tasks. Nothing is done without a clear purpose and advance planning; the time and resources wasted are minimal. And even with this focus, people work hard, even if it involves personal sacrifice. It is normal and socially acceptable to see commuters sleeping on the underground in the early hours of the morning or at night, on their way home. Family time is almost non-existent.

I raise the issue because of a recent article in the Jornal Económico, which relates that Microsoft trialled a four-day working week, as a result of which productivity shot up by 40% – in Japan…

In this particular experiment, Friday was changed from a working day to a day off.

I found myself making a comparison with the reduction in working hours from 40 to 35 in the Portuguese civil service. Could we have expected a similar increase in productivity? Did it work the same way in our case?