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Microsoft Japan’s 3-day weekend boosts worker productivity (soranews24.com)
557 points by nefitty 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 210 comments



The 5-day workweek was implemented what, 100 years ago?

Are we to believe that a 100 year old bizops practice is the optimal solution?

I honestly think that the main reason it's (nearly) impossible to implement something new, is because the old practice and mentality is so ingrained and etched in management, they'll feel cheated if the need to pay the same for less days (even though hours may be the same).

They'd rather have people around for as long as possible, doing 70%, than having them less but delivering 90%. The same type of management that values facetime and butts in seats over nearly anything else.


The whole arrangement is about control, preventing workers from having the time or energy to build competing enterprises, develop skills beyond a certain level, or organize against their employers. It’s the same reason why most big corps oppose a national healthcare system in the US: it keeps people locked in to their current positions and has the knock-on effect of putting downward pressure on wages and turnover expenses.


> It’s the same reason why most big corps oppose a national healthcare system in the US: it keeps people locked in to their current positions

Ok, then why isn't EU a Mecca of enterprise and innovation? Seems like EU is largely technologically stagnant compared to the US despite tons of safety nets at every level.


There are many reasons, IMO.

1. The US has almost 330 million people; Europe has 740 million - but we're spread over so many different countries / policies / cultures etc. Hell, eastern Europe was locked out up until 30 years ago, and didn't stat to see industrial prosperity until 20 years ago.

2. USA had a massive advantage after WW2, while Europe was still in shambles. The rebuilding of Europe wasn't really completed until the 50s and 60s, at a time when the US experienced its golden age of industrial development.

3. More rich people and more investors compared to Europe, from earlier on, coupled with excellent schools that could produce and feed talent into the industry.

Sure, we here in Europe have had excellent schools, but nowhere near the financial backings. In many countries, financial backing of tech and companies have been a gov / state affair, which in turn can be extremely limited compared to private investors.

etc.


Yeah, it's just amazing how people completely forget that whole "bombed literally to bits in WWII" thing. Most Americans have no clue how long rationing lasted in the UK after WWII, and yet you guys managed to implement the NHS. Meanwhile, at the same time, the fabulously prospering USA has never managed to do anything to take care of this basic need of citizens, yet keeps calling itself "superior".

The United States was once a 3rd world country that lost 10% of its population in the American Civil War. Within 5 decades of that, it produced 50% of the worlds manufacturing output.

Needless to say, Europe was it its peak at the time, and has only declined since.

Excuses are easy to come by - root causes are more useful to examine.


The US was the second country to industrialize (Britain was first; France third) and that industrialization had been going very strong for many decades before the start of the American Civil War. Also life expectancy, infant mortality, adult height and similar measures were better in the American colonies than in the most advance Western European countries a century (and probably a century and a half) before the start of the Civil War. So I don't agree that it was a 3rd-world country at the start of the Civil War.

(I have no opinion on grandparent; I am reacting only to your choice of the term "3rd-world country".)


1.2 Europe's 740 million people speak in at least 24 languages. This makes it much more difficult to scale internationally. That's why there's so many doppelgänger companies in different EU countries — it's more likely that somebody will create a regional clone of your successful business than you'll be able to scale.


There is a much simpler explanation.

1. It’s an order of magnitude easier to fire people in the US Vs the EU. That means American employers are more willing to take chances on people, ideas and growth. EU small business are family run for a reason.

2. It’s an order of magnitude easier to shut down a business in the US Vs the EU. So, again, an entrepreneur can take more chances in the US.

The EU favors big businesses that are hand-in-glove with the government. The US does so to a much smaller extent - smaller players and individuals have a fighting chance. Most US mega businesses today were tiny not too long ago (e.g. almost all of tech).


Google, Facebook etc. are ad serving companies. That's how they make their money. Let's compare that with other companies (a lot of them European) that are busy saving the world with renewable energy technologies etc. No comparison.


It is not as if all of the EU has a national healthcare system

The healthcare system in Germany is that the monthly insurance fee is like 15% of the wage of an employee and the employer has to pay half of the fee. If you switch from being employed directly to freelancing, you have no employer, and you have to pay at least twice as much for health care insurance. Twice as much, if you are lucky, since freelancer do not get a wage, the calculation is changed from 15% of the wage, to 15% of all income. In the worst case if you are a fire guy and have a lot of investments you can go from paying 50€/month for insurance to paying 700€/month with the same income, just because you work without an employer. (with public insurance, private insurances do their own fee calculations)

Basically, as soon as you do something non-traditional, you lose the safety nets


I could argue that the EU is a Mecca of enterprise and innovation compared to the US (no software patents or their associated trolls), and I could point out differences in capital models and so on.

Instead I'd just like to know: why do you think enterprise and innovation is more valuable than you or a member of your family needing an operation not bankrupting you?

There are more important things than work. In the UK we value the NHS so much it featured in the Olympics opening ceremony - a segment the NBC refused to air - because it literally keeps us alive better than anything else.

Does this mean it takes us longer to save up for our dream home because we're being taxed more heavily? Sure. But we don't care, because we realise that balance is more valuable.

I'm genuinely curious: is this attitude seen as eccentric or naive outside of these shores?


I think that it is largely the cultural brainwashing in the USA.

Technology is not the only economic domain and entrepreneurship is higher in some parts of Europe than the US:

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/10/think-w...


Largely this has to do with the financial market. In the US capital is extremely cheap, the root cause of that can be traced back to the petrodollar system.

US cherry-picking on- and intelligence inference in EU economic actors is way higher than the very meager reverse. If a EU company becomes successful or strategically interesting, it will typically be bought out by the US to be assimilated or disrupted.

In software US befitted immensely from a more homogeneous home market at a time where internationalization was very far from trivial and higher costs of software development favored a more coarse business granularity (in the EU a 'large' company starts at 251 employees).

All these taken together means the EU software market is disproportionately skewed towards bespoke B2B software development and embedded systems linked to more traditional industries such as automotive.


Nordic countries have some of the strongest safety nets, but more innovation and tech companies than many other countries. I’m not sure there is a strong correlation at all to be honest.


What technology has the US actually pioneered in the last 20 years that doesn’t involve tracking people in new and terrifying ways just to serve them ads? I wouldn’t exactly call the US a Mecca of enterprise and innovation when most people don’t even have $400 saved for an emergency and the only thing “innovation” does is enrich a small handful of people at the expense of the masses. I’d rather be more like Europe.


What makes you think that EU isn't a Mecca of enterprise and innovation? It certainly is. Just not in the areas (Google etc.) that software developers care about.


The narrative that the EU is devoid of enterprise and innovation relative to the US is a prevelant one, and I'm curious what it's based upon.

If by "a Mecca of enterprise and innovation", you mean "has lots of unicorns", I think this is a poor proxy for that metric—in fact, the opposite may be true as large players can often work against smaller innovators entering markets.


There are many barriers to fire people in the EU. Not just laws but also reputational risk to the managers doing the firing.

In fact, the EU is over regulated as a rule and discourages risk taking. For example GDPR compliance cost.

Also, the US is richer, so all startups want to conquer it as it's primary market. This is a positive feedback loop because talented people want to move to the US to make it big.


That's not true, there are little barriers for firing people in Europe.

In Austria/Germany the average tech gig is hire and fire. If some managers sees that your velocity in Jira is lower than the rest of the team for too long you'll be given your notice period and let go easy peasy, no sweat for the company.

To quote on of my ex German boss after he fired a colleague of mine "software engineers are dime a dozen, recruiters flood me with their resumes every day, I can have someone from Poland in his place next week".

This was a F500 company.


I find it fascinating that if you were to make an equivalent statement about the political realm, you'd be immediately branded a conspiracy theorist on HN. But when it comes down to labor management relations I guess HN is happy to upvote conspiracy theories.


It's not a conspiracy theory, just common sense. Start talking loudly at your job about starting a side business, being frugal and retiring early or even that the market for your skillset is great at the offers are flooding - and note how the management reacts. Hint: they don't want the workers to know there are viable alternatives to working at $JOB, because it makes their (mgmt) life harder.


> just common sense

Clearly not, as many people disagree with you.

> they don't want the workers to know there are viable alternatives to working at $JOB, because it makes their (mgmt) life harder.

Every decent tech professional is fully aware that they have the option of leaving. Management don't want you encouraging people to leave, sure.


> Start talking loudly at your job about starting a side business, being frugal and retiring early

Where I work, we have a Slack channel dedicated to this kind of talk, and most managers are in it. It’s been just fine.


IMO it's fine while it's just ideas. In my experience it changes when you actually leave etc.


The trouble with common sense is that is it so wicked subjective. So when we debate stuff, we at least try to have a pretense of objectivity.


At my FAANG company where I work, my side business is not discouraged at all. As long as I don’t complete with them, they don’t care one bit.


Bad managers think this way. Granted, there are a lot of bad managers. Making someone want to be a better person helps you, even if you lose them. You will lose good people anyway.


It's absolutely a conspiracy theory.

The 5 day work week has a historical basis and it has nothing to do with 'keeping you from a side job', nor do most managers concern themselves with these kinds of issues whatsoever - other than leaking company IP or working for a competitor etc. - but those are knowledge worker issues that having nothing to do with most jobs.

The conspiracy theory doesn't even make sense considering the vast majority of jobs are things like: 'truck driver' 'school teacher' 'nurse' 'construction worker' 'accountant' 'retail banker' etc..


Unrelated groups of people acting in self interest without being upfront about it isn't a conspiracy. It's human nature.


The only way to keep some employees is to give them time to work on their own side projects. Google used to do this. Formula 1 does this with key players.


(Google used to do 20% time... They still do, but they used to, too.)


Mitch Hedberg!!!

My other favorite joke of his: "Rice is great when you're hungry and want to eat like 2000 of something"


There have been reports that the 20% time is being slowly taken away and more heavily policed, and that it's more 100% + 20% time nowadays.


This is mostly untrue (IME) - a 20% project is strongly encouraged, and is used during the performance review. Taking time off of the main projects is expected.


Is it really a side project if it’s used in your performance review?


At Google Cloud the 20% time is just a recruiting tactic. Once you join you'll find out that it should be on top of your existing 100% FTE.


Exactly. After 3 days people in pubs and town halls would have reached the inescapable conclusion that they should revolt against rentiers.


Citation needed, in re corporate opposition to national healthcare



That seems to be more driven by a fear of out of control costs - also, the US chamber tends to represent smaller and a medium sized businesses.

Also it may be driven by fears of losing member support, as happened when they supported the clinton health care reform in the 90's


If you worked 4 days a week, you would spend that time organizing against your employer? What the hell for? If you don’t like the employer, go somewhere else.


Or organize with your coworkers to bring the operation more in line with how you all would like to see it operate. Management needs labor just as much as labor needs a paycheck. It's a two-way street.


Could the downvoters please explain why organizing with your coworkers is not an option, or not an appropriate option, instead of just downvoting?


Not everyone is willing or able to Leetcode in the office restrooms to "brush up"


Going somewhere else requires time to arrange it. Time is something you don't have working 5 days a week.


You still got 2 days a week off. Now you'll say those are days when other businesses are closed so you can't plan and interview but if everyone was working 4 days a week all businesses would be closed for 3 days. So you'd be back to square one.


"The whole arrangement is about control, preventing workers from having the time or energy to build competing enterprises, develop skills beyond a certain level,"

No, it really is not this at all.

The 5 day work week is a result of a reduction from the 6 day work week which and it's mostly derived as a standoff between organised labour and the capital class. It's the big entente.


> The whole arrangement is about control, preventing workers from having the time or energy to build competing enterprises, develop skills beyond a certain level, or organize against their employers

[Citation needed]


The statement in itself is of course overly broad, but I think you can do better, what part of the argument do you want a citation on?

EDIT: I just interpret it as a way to express the opinion that employers usually care about their buisness more than their workers.


Instead of giving you a citation, how about some logic - when your competitors keep pushing you out of the market, what is the natural course of business? Would it be to:

A) decrease work hours for employees

or B) make them work more for less, effectively preventing them from doing what OP said

It's not always that there is intention to suppress workers, it's just a natural consequence of traditional business.



Quote the relevant passage instead of gesturing vaguely at all of labor history. The idea that working hours are set to sap workers of competitive energy is just a weird conspiracy theory. But I guess HN will believe what it wants to believe.


Do you really believe you can summarize 100 years of labor law in a single quote that somehow will convince you...

Read any European socialist work from the 30s to the 70s and you'll have plenty of quotes to work with. Raoul Vaneigem, Guy Debord, &c.



So somewhere in 280 pages is something that might support the OP's claim? Give me a break. Cite specifics or stop pushing nonsense.

I wish there were a site like HN focused on technology and tech industry developments but without the Bay Area intellectual blind spots and biases.


Since you haven't disagreed with anything that's been said, but only criticised how they were presented (in multiple ways)... couldn't you just do the work yourself to frame this argument in a way that satisfies you?


I wish there were still people interested in learning instead of waiting to be fed one liners. Anyway, I'm the first to criticize SV so I'm not even sure what you're talking about. That book is quite short by the way, you can finish it in an evening, I don't think you can make it shorter without losing a lot of meaningful info. Seeing your other comment you seem to be stuck in a "HN vs me" kind of logic, knowing that I don't see how a single quote could change your mind.


I don’t think anybody is going to read a book just because you threw out a link. If you want to get your point across, you should condense what you thought was interesting about the book and make a case for why somebody would read it.


It's a societal critic, you can't condensate that, it's already as short as you can make it and the summary is a rebuttal to op's point... HN truly is becoming reddit by the day. Should I post memes explaining the last 200 years of labor history ? No wonder the world is going down the drain and people like Trump and Bolsonaro get elected if smart people don't even bother reading a 300 pages book about on one of the biggest issues of the last century.

You comment getting downvoted is all the evidence I need that HN went down the tubes over the past couples of years. Do you know of any good alternatives? Apparently dev.to is pretty good...


First people wanted 72 hour work weeks, then 60 hours, then 50, then 40, now they want just 32 hours? Outrageous /s

Seriously though, while we can run for 12 hours a day it turned out to be detrimental to do repetitive factory work for that long. That's how we eventually settled on a 40 hour week. But for mentally demanding work this doesn't seem to work, we just can't concentrate that long. People distracting each other when one of them reaches their limit, or people doing various unproductive things (including browsing various websites) seems more harmful to productivity than just leaving earlier. Having more time for creative hobbies and creative exploration also seems obviously useful for knowledge workers


A little aside, but nobody can run 12 hours a day for more than a short period of time. Running involves a lot of pounding on the joints, and muscles fatigue. In fact, the best endurance runners in the world (i.e., people who train optimally for maximal results) mostly run for only about 15 hours per /week/, often less.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliff_Young_(athlete)

> In 1983, the 61-year-old potato farmer won the inaugural Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon, a distance of 875 kilometres (544 mi). The race was run between what were then Australia's two largest Westfield shopping centres: Westfield Parramatta, in Sydney, and Westfield Doncaster, in Melbourne.[4] Young showed up to compete in overalls and work boots, without his dentures (later claiming they rattled when he ran).[5] He ran at a slow, loping pace, and trailed the pack by a large margin at the end of the first day. While the other competitors stopped to sleep for six hours, however, Young kept running. He ran continuously for five days, taking the lead during the first night and eventually winning by ten hours. Before running the race, he had told the press that he had previously run for two to three days straight rounding up sheep in gumboots.


> Are we to believe that a 100 year old bizops practice is the optimal solution?

Over the past 100 years a tiny minority were doing any kind of knowledge work. Do you want to stick with an optimization for manual labor at your tech company?

9-5/5 is less bad for this kind of work than the Chinese 9-9/6... but it's still bad.


> 9-5/5 is less bad for this kind of work than the Chinese 9-9/6... but it's still bad.

It's the same in the Middle East, often worse (12+ hours for 6 days, maybe a few less on Fridays).


I’m curious why they working so much? Is it because there isn’t much of a talent pool for the jobs?

Also curious, what if they weren’t paid salary but paid hourly in this study? Would they be okay with more time off and less money?

Digital stuff is weird because the traditional paradigm of work is: someone goes in coal mine and mines C clumps of coal then gets paid for that because the coal had some tangible value.

Technology is hard to conceptualise because a lot of it is not tangible or perhaps even wasteful.


Anecdotally, It is all culture. I have friends in Asia who try to work for international firms instead of the local ones because they get European style PTO and scheduling. The idea that you should have "you" time is not a cross cultural phenomenon, nor is it universally held even in the west. We pay it lip service and then expect people to put in 60 hours weeks during crunch or if they are gunning for a promotion.

I would argue from a management prospective the programmer hours are very much like coal mines, time goes in and features come out. The big difference is that you can sell the software more than once.


> I’m curious why they working so much? Is it because there isn’t much of a talent pool for the jobs?

Many social/cultural issues. A background of poverty adds to it. "Idling" at home or not hustling all the time is seen as undesirable or lazy, or even sinful. Spending time with the family is not valued that much, it's a waste of time! It's the wife's job to raise kids at home, and the husband's job to make money for them. If they're living together (as in if the husband's not in another city/country for work) they might go out 1-2 times a week to a shopping mall or KFC/McDonalds or a drive/stroll.

Kids and relatives usually go into the same job as each other (inheriting shops or manual labor). White collar/desk job workers also hustle as much as they can, usually working for over 8 hours every day, maybe taking a break on Fridays. Saturdays off are rare, and only in big companies with foreign (Western) employees who will of course not put up with this shit. Only government jobs and banks and big corporations might give a 2 day weekend.


Does some of that work time allow people to innovate and grow as an individual (thus possibly adding greater, future benefits to the company)?

I’ve seen instances of western companies run by by-the-books business folks with no concept of the value a “learning culture” and how it can add to future growth.

Then again, not all people will use their time wisely and they simple stand around and chat all day.


For most people in Middle Eastern/Southeast-Asian cultures, "grow as an individual" = knowing the right contacts to get promoted.

You either own the business, are chummy with the owners or their chums, or you generally remain where you were when you joined.

The concepts of personal growth and rewards based on merit are usually limited to Western-style organizations for employees with Western-style education etc.

Many middle/lower class people have been working every day for literally decades for less than US$1000 a month without ever seeing a raise.


It's true in America too, though. I'm sure it's not uncommon to see a competent worker get passed over for promotion multiple times while the boss's chums form a conga line through the position.


But people in America have many protections. While in the UAE for example if you publicly complain about a company, boss or government you could get jailed/deported. People often don't even get paid for months and they have no real recourse.


Whether or not Americans have protections isn't the topic. It's whether we differ significantly in whether competency know-how or network and camaraderie decide your job prospects.

Also you can be fired for publicly complaining about an employer in at-will states, at the very least.


Until I got to your last sentence I thought you were talking about the US.


Sure, but if you give them a four day work week, next thing you know they'll be asking for three days! /s


Then they would work for two employers, again getting a 6-days-a-week schedule.


I don't see that the age of the practice means we have to arbitrarily change it.

On the other hand, I have two concerns:

- on the weeks where I took Friday off for travelling, I did not complete as much work as on a normal week. The output was smaller, and I had to squeeze more things into the four days which was just excruciating.

- I read about a poll in my home country where 74% of people said they will never work again if they had enough money, and only 16% said they will never quit their job even if they're rich. So perhaps ideas like 4 day work week and UBI works for those 16%, but not for the majority?


This year I was forced to change to a 3 day work schedule (4 day weekend), by some recent boneheaded changes in Italian tax law for self-employed workers: if I were to make more before tax, I would make less after tax. That means that the average tax rate has a discontinuity and the marginal tax rate diverges at one point.

Even if this change was to be reversed by the new government I don't think I would go back to working full time: not only I'm less stressed and more productive (per hour worked), but a more interesting change is that you stop defining yourself by your profession. You are not a programmer, you code to pay the rent and are all the other things you do in the four days you have left.

(I'm using a throwaway, because it doesn't take long to figure out what the limit income is and derive roughly how much I make per hour)


This is exactly how many conservative Americans think our tax system works (it doesn't work like that at all). Republican politicians and their henchmen like Rush Limbaugh played that up for years during the 90s to help keep the anti-government anger stoked. Whenever they were called on it they hedged back to some weak argument about having to work twice as hard for each marginal dollar being a disincentive.


I don't understand the downvotes. I have friends who have turned down more work/pay because of it pushing them to the next tax bracket. They think that that would _lower_ their overall take home. They seem to not understand that it is a marginal rate. If they felt that the effort vs reward was not valuable, that makes sense. But they think they will actually lose money. Maybe I'm the one missing something.


No, it's a completely widespread tactic and misinformation (how tax brackets work), not only in the US, but elsewhere too.

I'm in Norway, and have heard the exact same things. People that turn down extra work, because they're certain that the said OT pay is getting bumped into the next tax bracket, and they'll net LESS than if they had not worked at all.


You aren't missing anything, there's a ton of misunderstanding around marginal tax rates; confusion that directly benefits the tax-cuts-over-all subset of American political actors.


Our tax system does not work this way (because we have marginal tax rates, not overall tax rats), but welfare programs (which are often binary - either you get it or you don't) do end up having this effect for many people.


So how much do you make per hour? Since you’re using a throwaway why not just tell everyone to spread the love?


The limit is 65k. You pay 25% to the mandatory pension fund. Of the remaining, they assume 22% of expenses and tax you 15% on what's left. So you take home ~42k net after taxes. If he were to earn 65.001 euros, he'd take home ~32k net after taxes. You need to earn at least ~80k to break even. So if you earn between 65k and 80k, you're screwed. Needless to say, that 65k becomes a ceiling because if you get a raise, you start earning several thousands of euros less. So either you're stuck at 65k, or you bite the bullet and take the hit until you reach 80k, at which point you can start increasing your take home again. So a 1 euro increase gives you a -10k "raise", while a 15k increase gives you a 0 euros "raise".

It's probably the most stupid tax system in the developed world.


Not as dumb and not something that catches everyone but a similar problem in the UK is free childcare.

22 hours of free childcare a week is worth ~£9k a year post-tax. If either you or your partner earn a penny over £100k then you're no longer eligible for any of your children. So with two kids in nursery a penny pay rise might lead to a £30k pre-tax pay cut.


This is why I never understood means tested aids like this. Why isn't childcare free for everyone? Is it really that expensive to give this to those who earn more than £100k as well? All this does is create an unnecessary rift between rich and poor people.


Isn't it the opposite? It fills the gap by providing poorer people free child care where richer ones can afford it by themselves?


So someone making £100k can afford it more than someone making £99.999k?

Means-tested only makes sense if you have a progression instead of a hard cut-off, otherwise it creates these pits of despair.

It's similar with welfare in Germany: if you have an extremely low-paying job, welfare will "top up" your income up to the same level as someone with no job. So until you break even, working an extra hour or taking a job that pays slightly more is economically pointless because it has no effect on your bottom line: every extra Euro you earn gets deducted from the welfare benefits. This encourages undeclared work, losing the government money via taxes.


> Not as dumb and not something that catches everyone but a similar problem in the UK is free childcare.

> 22 hours of free childcare a week is worth ~£9k a year post-tax. If either you or your partner earn a penny over £100k then you're no longer eligible for any of your children. So with two kids in nursery a penny pay rise might lead to a £30k pre-tax pay cut.

Means testing is usually fairly expensive to administer too. It's more political point scoring than anything else.


That is a different situation, since a family with one partner earning £100k is assumed to be well enough off to provide childcare for their kids.

Another way to look at this is that it's providing more to the poorer families who need it more by cutting away costs for richer families.


You could apply the exactly same argument to the other example. And regarding the second line, in both cases the problem isn't that richer people get less, but that there's a sharp cutoff instead of a gradual scale.


The similarity is that there's a discontinuity which discourages you from increasing your gross pay because your net pay will be reduced.

That a single £100k salary is enough to maintain a household of two kids is neither here nor there (and also depends very much on where you live).


Who comes up with ideas like this?

- bad for social mobility - incentive to work off the books


I'm a fellow Italian but living abroad (San Francisco). I had no idea of this problem. It's completely dumb. When was this introduced, this year?


Yes, it was introduced in late 2018 and came into effect this year. It's basically an extension of an equally bad tax cut that was previously reserved to people earning less than 30k. Given the higher limit, it makes the jump above that limit twice as steep.


Not quite. You can't have any deduction or detraction in t, e so-called-flat-tax regime, so your expenses are computed as a forfait depending on your profession. For us tech workers the magic number is 67%, so the effective tax rate is 10%.

Also I think that my calculations make the break-even point between the two different regimes a little over 100k.


I fail to see how this system is supposed to improve things over regular progressive taxation... was it even worse before? What were they thinking?


Hey, one of the majority parties that are aligned with the government in Italy is literally headed by a clown. And you're surprised that they came up with this? It could be worse.


Thank you so much for the explanation. What was the rationale behind this?


A politician wanted votes. To get votes, you need to lower taxes. But that requires money, which there isn't much to go around. So they picked a niche of people (freelancers earning less than 65k) and gave them a tax cut. Making it progressive (i.e. everyone pays 15% on the first 65k and then a higher tax rate on the rest) would either cost too much, or be too small of a cut to gain enough votes.


> It's probably the most stupid tax system in the developed world.

In Germany you can end up in a similar situation, though I think the gap is smaller.


To be fair this is not new, they just raised the limit that keeps you in the simplified regime and the gap of negative marginal increase of income went from being around 5k to being over 50k wide.


A bit over $50/hour


We have some edge cases here in the US that are like that. If you are on a health plan and bump up to a higher pay grade, you can go from paying around $100/mo to paying over $1000/mo. I can’t remember the exact details, but I remember being really surprised it wasn’t a marginal system.


If you don't mind me asking what's the law you are referring to?


I'm not OP, but he's referring to the so-called "flat tax" for freelancers.


I definitely want to believe, but they implemented this for one month. So literally four days off, and declared success? Couldn’t many of those measurements be just standard deviations? Curious how productivity gain was measured and whether or not this is just a honeymoon period and at some point it settles back to baseline..


There's also the issue that Japan is quite notorious for a work culture that prohibits people from leaving to early and staying at office for a long time sometimes doing very little work. So the opportunity to increase productivity (or just not getting less work done) is probably bigger because there's a lot of slack to cut out.

In Germany we have a very different culture. You come at eight or nine and leave at four or five, you have your break but otherwise you're basically supposed to work. I have a hard time believing that cutting an entire day out is going to increase productivity a lot.


A german company did a similar experiment with positive results: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-5-hour-workday-gets-put-to-...


Note that they explicitly did it with the intention of clamping down on informal breaks, socialising and other "distractions". The founder heavily suggested he decided on this solution because he wanted to cut down on on-the-clock use of Facebook, private conversations, etc. They basically enforce a rather strict work focus during those 5 hours and justify it by offloading that overhead into leisure time. Also the 5 hour cut-off is socially enforced with a strict "countdown".

Our company is in the same region of Germany and we independently started experimenting with our work time but our focus was employee well-being via stress reduction and encouraging our employees to use the extra free time for self-care.

We ended up with a flexible 25-40 hour work week (or similar 60-ish % adjusted for non-40 hour positions). The goal is to keep each employee's work hours as close to 25 as possible but allow for "overtime" (up to the full 40 hours) if necessary. If we notice employees are working "overtime" over a longer period of time, we rebalance the work load or adjust timelines as possible to get them back to 25.

Despite the reduction of work hours by 30-40% the effective work output only shrunk by 10-20%. But the real benefits are social.


>and whether or not this is just a honeymoon period and at some point it settles back to baseline.

I think some label that temporary boost in reaction to novelty as the "Hawthorne Effect":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect


Yeah, the elephant in the room here is that they have no explanation how productivity is measured, and if they shouldn't create a lag model because you don't expect every single employee's performance to be directly & immediately related to the day the day sales of the group.


It also doesn't take into account the habituation process that all humans are subjected to. Employees might work harder when the 4 days workweek is introduced. And might return back to a lower normal once they get used to it. And if that happens, how can you convince people that they should be working 5 days a week again?


Probably what happened.

Why not just give everyone an extra random day off a year. At the beginning of the year there is a draw to pick the next random day off from the work calendar. Make it into a public holiday. Random Day!


Also the article said people took 25% less holiday, which could make it just 3 days off, depending on what the typical number of holidays taken for this month is.


Fuck everything about 5 day work weeks.

I'll gladly switch to any job that offers a 4 day work week. It's one of the best perks.

As someone with ADHD, work days are entirely spent getting work done. There isn't any extra slack or allotment for personal tasks. They're 100% owned by the employer.

Weekends offer barely enough time to catch up with chores. There isn't enough time both to catch up and still have fun. I use vacation time to catch up on chores, so that's spent too.

I don't want to spend most of my life working. I feel like a slave, and now my youth is almost gone.

I don't care if it's a 10hr/4day schedule or a 9hr/4day 8hr/4day with less pay, I want an extra day for myself. I'm an excellent engineer aside from my ADHD quirks, and I'll go anywhere that offers this where I live.

My own startup (I almost have the capital for a long runway) will be 9hr/4day.

Fuck everything about 5 day work weeks.


As someone with ADD (essentially ADHD with only the "attention deficit" bit, no hyperactivity) I recognise the feeling. I'm lucky to be in a position where I can work 4 days a week, but I'd still barely have energy left for fun activities.

I've now been on methylphenidate (also known as ritalin) for about a month and good god that has made a difference for me. When I get home I can get right into hobby projects or chores instead of just deflating on the couch until bedtime.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, have you tried looking into medication? I know a lot of people are vehemently against medicating ADHD issues, I was pretty much one of them. The thing is you can totally try it out and if it doesn't work for you or has side-effects you'd rather not deal with you can stop easily enough.

I've heard plenty of ritalin horror stories, but a lot of those start making sense once you read the list of side effects. You need to be somewhat lucky to not be too affected by them. If you are there's other medication that can be tried.

I guess my point in a nutshell is don't suffer if you don't have to. I've spent 25 years suffering with my inability to choose what to focus on, and a simple pill has let me trade that for cold hands and a restless leg. I'd take that deal any day. Speak to your GP and ask what your options are. Worst case you're no worse off than you are now.


Is it a long-acting medication? Doctors seem to diagnose me with anxiety/depression or ADD/ADHD. The antidepressants don't help. Does the ritalin "work" all day, or do you have to redose it?

I'm currently on 15mg in the morning and then 15mg after lunch. It doesn't quite last all the way to lunch or all the way to the end of the day but it's already such a massive improvement that I really don't mind too much. I'm lucky to not get much if any "rebound" when it stops working, so I can just keep going at my old pace even when it does wear off.

There do exist long-acting versions and I might try those in the future, but for now this is already pretty damn amazing.

> anxiety/depression

As far as I know those are commonly comorbid with ADD/ADHD. I'd get pretty anxious and stressed by having the feeling of not working hard enough while simultaneously being unable to work harder in any case. You'll definitely want to talk to your doctor. Mention that you might like to see if medicating the ADD/ADHD helps with your symptoms.


You make it sound like you can just go get ritalin to try whenever you want. That's... not accurate in my experience.

Well, in my experience once you get the ADD/ADHD diagnosis it's not exactly hard either. Clearly if you walk into the doctors office and demand a prescription it's not going to end well, but you can definitely ask to be tested for ADD/ADHD, and assuming that goes well asking about medication options should get the ball rolling.

Of course this is going to differ by country. In my case I had to try therapy first before medicating was an option they would consider, but that's hardly a show stopper in most cases. and who knows, maybe therapy is the perfect solution in your individual case.


How do they test for ADHD?

You can't exactly get a blood test for it for sure, it's pretty much diagnosed based on the symptoms at the moment.

I really relate to this comment - at some point when I have a family I really doesn't rest on the weekend at all - catching up chores and spending minimal time with kids takes all the energy left - any tips to successfully recharge batteries each week?


I've left a comment to the comment you're replying to[0]. I'll briefly restate it here: seriously look into medication, it has been a life changer for me so far.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21441054


My employer, a F500 non FAANG company, has been doing something similar for a long time. During the summer they have what they call summer hours. It’s usually from June through August. Friday’s are mostly off. That is if your work is complete then you can leave early. We have a large remote workforce so I assume quite a few of those remote workers don’t work at all on Fridays. It is a nice perk and I do hope it continues. It does not seem to impact our ability to hit our targets in any negative way. No idea if they ran any numbers to see if it impacted them positively, but we all like it and we have been hitting our numbers for the most part across the company.


>We have a large remote workforce so I assume quite a few of those remote workers don’t work at all on Fridays.

Funny that this is the assumption. I think they would be more likely to work since they are not bothering with the daily commute to work.


I work remotely, and I bet that probably the remote workers are working on Friday exactly because some people have this kind of prejudices. In mixed companies, remote workers generally have to work harder than co-located ones just to overcome this bias.


Right, I am remote and I actually work most Friday’s. This because I partner with our sales force and they work every day since they are 98% commission based.

But on the rare occasions I try to get ahold of people who are strictly salary on these Friday’s can be a challenge. But it’s usually not a huge issue either. In an emergency we can get ahold of someone who can help.


My sister used to work a 9/9 shift in biotech (9 9 hour shifts, every other Friday off). It meant she had plenty of time for all-day experiments and could have a day for errands and shopping during normal business hours.


> "if your work is complete then you can leave early"

What happens if your work is complete before Friday during non-Summer hours?


I don't think I've ever worked somewhere where I could exhaust the work items. There's always vastly more work to be done.


Work is never complete :D


It's not surprising this wouldn't cause problems for most companies' productivity. I've worked in retail, warehouses, and now an office. Unless there's a crunch (big order needs shipped, an important presentation is coming up), most people mentally "check out" for the last hour daily and all Friday afternoon.

They're not really working (many in the warehouse would walk around to avoid suspicion before meeting in a different aisle to chat), so letting them leave would cost nothing but gain employee happiness.


We have every other Friday afternoon off during the summer. It’s a nice perk and as far as i can tell no productivity is lost. People seem happier though.


In a country like Japan, anything you do to improve work-life balance(also the way its looked at) is going to add to productivity.


> Due to its success this year, Microsoft is planning on repeating it again next summer or perhaps at other times as well.

If the results were truly as remarkable as the article is making them out to be, why not implement it all year?


There was a story I read about the Carnegie steelworks end of the 1800s. Usual working hours was six days a week. Then the plant manager introduced a 40 hour week. Productivity went up and less accidents happened. This went for a while until the manager got killed in an accident. Soon after, despite the good numbers, the plant went back to the old schedule. I think it’s hard to shake the belief that the more hours you work the more you get done.


I'm guessing here, but it's usually hard to convince the right people.. I've been through this for me personally, so obviously anecdotal, but even if you take an equivalent pay cut people are often reluctant to let you work less because "how will you get anything done", even though there's plenty of evidence to the contrary. But admittedly it's quite counterintuitive too, saying I'll work less but I'll be more productive..


Most likely because they are not yet sure whether or not it was a fluke and/or whether or not it would have unforeseen long term impacts and/or they identified other issues they need to address. E.g. the article pointed out that a lot of the increase seemed to be down to fewer meetings. Which presumably raises the question of 1) whether that's sustainable (were those meetings really meetings that could just be cut?) and 2) if it is sustainable, maybe they think they can achieve a bigger productivity increase by slashing meetings and not cutting working hours.

It also seems like one of those things that are near impossible to reverse if you make them the norm and things goes sideways, so I can understand they want to be cautious.


We've done this the last few years at my company, so that we have every other Friday during the summer off, staggered for coverage.

It's nice. Nobody ever does anything on Friday anyway, and a three-day weekend lets you actually go somewhere or get a project done. Moreover, when you have a weekday off regularly, you can actually go to the post office or the bank or all the other places that are only open when working people are working and can't go.


So the same question for your company. Why is the only during the summer? A staggered every other Friday off has always been something I’ve hoped would become mainstream year round. It isn’t that progressive of a thing to enact since its staggered/every other.


Generally, we work from home all Fridays, so you have to handle your meetings and email, but there's still flexibility. The summer fridays are nice because you are completely off, no expectation of availability.

It's a little silly to only do in the summer, but it's still a nice perk.


The most people get used to it, the more I would expect "Thursday" to become the new Friday and you should expect to quickly end up losing the benefit of that additional day off as laziness takes over.


My company implements an optional every other Friday off. Somewhat surprisingly, Thursday hasn’t really become the new Friday. In fact, the people who choose to work the full 5 days tend to get more work done on Fridays, since fewer people are around to interrupt them. The people who take those Fridays off are generally happier and still pretty productive on Thursdays.


If people didn't want to work at all this might be true (at least if Friday off was widely implemented). But generally that doesn't seem to be the case. Unemployment seems to stress people, and most people seem to prefer vacations that are 2-3 weeks at a time, even if they could take more. So if you offered people to come in whenever they want they might be there more often than you expect.


Wouldn’t people be comparing to their peers outside of work? Most people don’t get any Friday’s off. It would be pretty wild to start wanting Thursday off so much when no one else is getting Friday off.


I’m not sure lazy people care which day of the week it is.


It's unlikely someone in the know will post answers here, but this is Japan - and it has totally different work culture. The idea of an employee leaving before their boss is still unthinkable in many cases. Many people are employed in what are bureaucratic "paper pushing" jobs, even if their title suggests otherwise.

You can see a little bit of this if you visit because you'll experience endless paperwork for everything, but this is only one layer of a very complex onion. I wouldn't say this is all bad, but it has problems.


Because it's PR fluff since no metric was actually shown here?


Posts like this remind me why I really enjoy working for myself.

You have the option of being able to decouple your hours worked from your accomplishments. You get to choose whether or not you take the day off because you crushed it yesterday, or you can continue grinding it out hardcore for months just so you can take a few extended breaks in the near future.

You are in control of the dial that dictates when you work.


How do you implement such amazing perk for customer support team in a bootstrap startup where cash and people is a limited resource, but your customers need support at least during the office hours? I guess I should not dream about it now , as such experiments work only for companies with a lot of money or departments which do not need their work to be done in a specific time during a day?


In any support organization I've worked in (including software teams with support responsibilities, software teams with escalation responsibilities, etc.), a given customer question doesn't necessarily get a good answer on the same day. The SME might be out sick, there might be an incident distracting everyone, the problem might be genuinely hard and require research/experimentation, etc. Even if you have a 24h SLA it's usually 24h to a response saying "We're looking into it but check out the FAQ", not to a resolution. And this gets more likely the smaller your team is.

So invest in better FAQs and diagnosis tools and in procedures to reduce incidents, instead of trying to throw more bodies at the problem, because you don't have more bodies. Customers will be happier about getting actual answers sooner than they otherwise would.

This isn't a perk, any more than weekends or healthcare or market compensation is a "perk." It's an investment in getting better results for your business and for your customers, through making sure you have healthy and productive employees.


You can stagger the weekend so that everybody gets the extra day but not always the same day.


> customers need support at least during the office

No, they don't. You are bootstrapping. Your customer doesn't even rely their business on your solution.

Even large companies doesn't do support. Who do you call if your Windows is crashing? What if there is a power outage, do you call your provider asap? Exactly. Customers are used to what you let them to use to. They need to be sure you are aware of the outage before they notice it. You know you are doing a good job if they don't have to contact you.


Well, like you said, only top companies can afford such perks and so competition to work there will be fierce.


It looks like this was a sales department. The metric of productivity was sales per employee according to the tweeted image and the Nikkei article.

The sources also mention better use of meeting time via an increase in shorter meetings and teleconferences.


Entirely anecdotal, but my personal experience confirms this. I switched to 4-day weeks nearly four years ago and it feels very beneficial. Claiming I get the same amount of work done in less time would be an overstatement, but I'm definitely more productive in the four days when I'm working. Can't remember the last time I suffered any work-related stress and my motivations for taking time off are almost purely external now (spending time with friends and family), never the feeling of needing a break.


My favorite version of this is the M-H then T-F weeks. That way you get a 4 day weekend every two weeks and the office has 5 day a week coverage if you put people on alternating weeks.


As parent replied that H stands for Thursday, I should add to that three-shift staggering pattern would be more useful: mo-th, we-sa, fr-tu


Why would I want to work the weekend?


This results in an overall 7-days-a-week schedule, with a desirable property: two shifts working at a time on weekdays and one shift at a time working on weekends. Fr-Tu was intended to be Fr,Su-Tu.


I can work M-H, have a 4 day weekend, work T-F, have a 2 day weekend, and repeat. I am not sure how I would do that with your schedule. Plus, I don't want to work weekends.

   mo-th twice, then 6 days off
   we-sa twice, then 5 days off
   fr-tu once, then 6 days off

Thursday


A single month trial says nothing. A rational employee would surely work a lot during this trial period, because if the experiment is successful, they get a lot more free time in the future.

Nobody works at 100% productivity all the time, but if it only about a month with a big incentive, they can tap into their reserves and improve productivity for the prospect of more free time.

Social experiments are very difficult because the observed subjects know about the experiment.


+1 (BTW I'm not implying the 4-day week doesn't work)


"For many ages to come the old Adam will be so strong in us that everybody will need to do some work if he is to be contented. We shall do more things for ourselves than is usual with the rich to-day, only too glad to have small duties and tasks and routines. But beyond this, we shall endeavour to spread the bread thin on the butter-to make what work there is still to be done to be as widely shared as possible. Three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour week may put off the problem for a great while. For three hours a day is quite enough to satisfy the old Adam in most of us!" - John Maynard Keynes


Interviewed at Dolby Labs once. They told me depending on your start date, you get every other Friday off. Someone else may start on a different cycle so they have the opposite Friday off from you. They said Fridays are pretty much a day with no meetings and time to finish projects or tasks. If the following Monday of your Friday off is a holiday, you essentially get a four day weekend.


One month is not enough to check whether this works. Furthermore it's important to check for the Hawthorn Effect.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect


Japan’s work culture is crazy. Everyone works too many hours and is NOT productive. It seems like the easiest problem in the world to solve for them, give people back some time in their day, enjoy life more, and get more productivity.

That said, Keynes predicted we’d have a 20 hour work week by now in the US, and when exactly does that happen.


Japan suffers from a cultural problem, mainly that you're judged by how much you work. It's like the Puritan work ethic, where idleness and not working was seen as sin.

The penalization or reward curve seems to be highly asymmetric. If you work hard, you're barely getting rewarded - it's what is expected. But if you slack even a bit, you'll get penalized harshly. This leads to fear-driven management, where employees will put up with all kinds of bullshit, as well as just looking like they're working, in fear of getting sacked or limiting their career opportunities.


To be fair, if you wanted the standard of living of the 1930s you can achieve that with 20 hours/week of minimum wage. Average income was around $8-9k at that time.


True if you add that you won't likely be able to live in certain cities or expensive towns. But that leaves most of the country. There are some really beautiful places you can live that are not expensive.

Check out the Appalachians if you like to live in a misty postcard, and the stereotypes are largely false. Your neighbors are more likely to be artists or organic farmers than the characters from Deliverance. (I used to live in Asheville which is moderately expensive but you don't have to go far from town and it gets cheap.)


If you work remotely and/or live in some small village. Otherwise, that's not enough to pay electricity, rent, food and transportation. Minimum wage is far behind the costs of even basic living (in most of the developed world, anyway).


When you become conscious of the fact that your employers are not going to graciously give a 20 hour work week to you and you need to take it for yourself.


Meanwhile, at my company, our HR has decided to cut sick leave to the CA state mandated 3 days minimum.

So now we have people coughing their heads off at work and spreading flu everywhere. How efficient can you be I wonder when you are sick? Yet people seem to take pride in the fact that they are still working while battling an illness.

I'm honestly surprised they tried this in Japan which has a super rigid work structure.


I would also like to add that whilst this may (or may not) work for companies such as Microsoft, rolling out something like this nationwide is still a bad idea. There are many roles where this will have little effect on productivity, likely less office-based roles. Another reason not to roll this out nationwide is simply that lower paid roles may also see even lower pay.

That said, given the opportunity, I believe I would much prefer to work four days a week if the pay was adequate to support myself comfortably. I much prefer the idea of having a job to support my lifestyle and hobbies, rather than my life being by job. I've always liked the idea of having a day-ff mid-week, we used to do this as school children and it made the week a less of a drag (you were always looking forward to the "weekend" being at most one more day away).


> There are many roles where this will have little effect on productivity, likely less office-based roles. Another reason not to roll this out nationwide is simply that lower paid roles may also see even lower pay.

What kind of roles are you talking about? The food service workers gotta keep flipping burgers all week while you eat out on your midweek weekend? You sure that won't affect productivity/caring-about-health-code-standards? As somebody who has seen the actions of disgruntled line-cooks behind the scenes, I'd pay extra to have my food prepared by a relatively content worker -- even for selfish reasons.

> That said, given the opportunity, I believe I would much prefer to work four days a week if the pay was adequate to support myself comfortably.

Of course you would, you're a human.


> I'd pay extra to have my food prepared by a relatively

> content worker -- even for selfish reasons.

Of course, but where productivity doesn't increase significantly from having additional time spent not working, there will simply be less work done - i.e. people will be paid less. I don't know whether your burger flipper will be more disgruntled from working more hours a week or getting paid less and working less.

I highly suspect that such trade-offs are privileges of those who get paid more, hence have enough excess income that they can take a day off without significant detriment or their companies are in a position to swallow those costs. And it's not even that simple in the second case, one of my old employers made several billion dollars profit every year, but were still making engineers redundant in order to reduce engineering costs and increase investor gains. Microsoft seems to be in a position where they can just swallow such costs and not worry investors, even if productivity didn't increase significantly. Even it's ability to do such experiments is owing to it's size.

> Of course you would, you're a human.

It's not quite that simple - I personally have life-long goals that I would like to work more on. After speaking to people from a wide walk of life, I don't believe everybody has such passions for their side projects, or their goals simply benefit from more cash (i.e. holidays, family, expenses, etc). For some people their work is their goal.

I'm also willing to take a 1/5th cut, as long as I can still make the rent. Not everybody would be willing to say that, especially if you find yourself closer to the breadline.

The audience here on HN is likely to be middle class and above... My point is that before protesting nationwide for a day to be cut from the working week, we should also consider our lesser paid equals. Everybody's case and reasoning will be different.


> Of course, but where productivity doesn't increase significantly from having additional time spent not working, there will simply be less work done

I don't believe that productivity in the service industry doesn't significantly decrease with number of hours worked. I get that with some work you end up mulling over it while you're away and coming up with a solution to a problem in a way that doesn't apply nearly as often for a kitchen environment, but I've seen workers who felt they weren't getting enough time off show up drunk, take 45 minute breaks without clearing it with management, not bother with proper food handling procedures (e.g. putting meat products in ice and water before throwing them in the walk-in so that time spent between holding temperatures would be minimised and bacteria wouldn't grow in the meat we served to customers), etc. Even as somebody who tried to stay on the ball, I would be slipping up and making dumb mistakes at the end of a 14 hour shift in a hot kitchen without enough time for adequate hydration. Work two of those in a row and I doubt you'll be at peak efficiency, either. When I worked in food service workers tended to be asking for less hours, not more. We'd bribe each other to take shifts. That doesn't mean we didn't want more pay, it's just that the bottom feeders of society also value their free time. Being paid less means that each hour you sell you get less for. Selling your reading time for $8.50 an hour feels way worse than selling it for $50.00 an hour; at $50.00 you feel like you're building towards something, at $8.50 you feel like you're pissing away your life for practically nothing.

> It's not quite that simple - I personally have life-long goals that I would like to work more on. After speaking to people from a wide walk of life, I don't believe everybody has such passions for their side projects, or their goals simply benefit from more cash (i.e. holidays, family, expenses, etc). For some people their work is their goal.

I get what you're saying here. My point with the "you're human" line was that you were making an argument about the service industry employees based on how we as a society could most efficiently capture their labor value, and then stating your own desires for work-life-balance in more human terms.


A 14 hour shift is quite significant for anybody, I just came off a solid 20+ hour shift myself (long story - code needed to be pushed out for a deadline). I can certainly appreciate all the points raised.

I still don't think that we can blanket say: "less time worked is beneficial to all the people". I think people need the ability to choose based on their goals and situation (and not be forced into a decision).

This certainly gets quite complicated quite quickly. In the UK for example, we've had zero hour contracts and apprenticeships for quite some time. In some cases they've allowed people greater flexibility around their personal situation and in others they have been used as a tool to pay people below minimum wage.

> [..] we as a society could most efficiently capture their

> labor value, and then stating your own desires for

> work-life-balance in more human terms.

Sure. But this work-life balance is also reflective of a realistic input into society. If given the choice, I would accept full pay and work zero days (and some have chosen this life-style with a social support systems). As a society and a company we need to maximize productivity per hour - and part of that equation could be less hours worked, but it could also not be.


There are a lot of comments here that are espousing the value of getting more time to do the work - this is fine. Some businesses need to be open 5 days a week.

However, if your work does not really require you to be in the office, then I see no issue with people working even two days from home.

What I feel is that in order to get to the office, a lot of work needs to be done before you can get there, and it is an expense (in terms of time as well as money) that the employee bears.

I think we need to realize that we are in the 21st century, and that most things can be resolved by video-conferencing and email. We have so many tools for remote communication, and they are really very good.

It is high time, we took full advantage of them, and give people less stress in their lives, and more time to spend with their families and developing themselves.


In the Middle East and Southeast Asia even a 2-day weekend is rare!

People CHOOSE to work ALL week, only closing for a few hours just for Friday prayers because of social norms.

Expat workers in the Middle East get only a couple consecutive weeks off per year to go visit their families.

In developed societies, I think even keeping it a 2-day weekend and allowing employees to have at least one day of their choice to work from home would be great.


work from home is very industry/role dependent, IT can easily work from home but the same can't be said for Hardware Ops or finance, who often rely on paper even in "modern" companies.

if there's going to be a "new default" I think the 3 day weekend makes the most sense, or a Wednesday off scheme where you work 2 sets of 2 days.


I work for a non-FAANG Fortune 100 company that just implemented a 4/10 schedule after being 9/80 for a number of years. These are the perfect kinds of symbiotic moves where everyone benefits - employees get more time for their lives, employers save operating costs, and the environment saves a day of commuting from thousands of people.


Can you elaborate on what 4/10 and 9/80 means?


Work 10 hours a day M-Thu but get Friday off, or get every other Friday off, respectively.


This is not the first experiment of its kind. Here is a New Zealand firm, trusts manager, experimented with 4-day workweek with very satisfactory results

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/world/asia/four-day-workw...

Here is an article about how working less is a solution to just about everything

https://thecorrespondent.com/4373/the-solution-to-just-about...

I personally have been working 4 days a week or less for more than a decade already. Loving it. Does it improve my productivity? Why the heck should I care! It improves my life.


Are you self employed or is this something you have been able to negotiate with your employers?


A reminder that most scientific studies that report sensational results enough to "go viral" are wrong.

And this doesn't even claim to be scientific, AFAICT.

But it does report that we don't have to make hard choices. We can pay less and get more. You can see why this message travels fast.


I work alone in Japan for my own company but boy people work too much I think. Some people reply to my message after midnight and that is someone who is employed and not someone running a company.

And some other people message me on Saturday morning and again, that is an employee but the good part is that for the people I know, they don't look unhappy or maybe they're just used to that work hours... I don't think I'll want to work like that if I'm an employee.

When I was an employee for the one year in my entire life, I asked for overtime (I was the only person getting it in a company of about a dozen people) and usually worked 9-10 hours for 5 days.


This is a bold statement. I don't think I can get more things done when I take one more day off. Can you?

They don't show how they measured their productivity exactly. I also don't think a month trial is good enough to derive the conclusion. Furthermore, there is a chance that other variables affected the result. It's difficult to come to the conclusion through this kind of uncontrollable experiment where you cannot control the variables and constants.


Does anyone know whether this is 40% daily or weekly productivity? If it's daily, that's only a 12% weekly boost (still good! but less breathtaking). If it's weekly, that's an amazing 75% daily boost!


I wonder how many hours per day these people are working. With Japanese corporate culture a 4 day workweek could still easily be 50+ hours.


apparently from comments below this was a sales metric and had nothing to do with software engineering. However many colleagues have so much vacation time built up that if they don't take one three day weekend a month they stop accruing vacation


The 23 percent change in electricity use could largely be explained by the 20 percent reduction in the time people were in the office.


Would you still get a productivity boost, when the workers spent the weekend working on their open source projects?


This is great, why not move to 4 or 5 day weekends?


I honestly wonder what most people would do with the extra time? Side projects? Hobbies? Family?


I've worked 4-days/week for a year and on Fridays I do the same sort of things as Saturday and Sunday.

Initially I thought it would be a special "hobby day" but the reality of being a parent took over.


finally..they get a break.


How is productivity measured by Microsoft in Japan where they have huge market dominance and therefore could actually fire most most of their workforce and still generate as much business, resulting in gazillions % of productivity improvement?


Go ahead: implement a four day work week. I'll keep working five or six days per week like I do now, and consequently, I'll look more productive and impactful compared to the do-as-you're-told types. You can't actually stop people in a creative profession from working, and tech generally evaluates people on their impact. What do you think will happen?


It is good to be a hard worker. It is also good to spend time on activities that help us achieve our own goals, instead of the goals of an organization.

That's great that you're proud of how much you work. Along with their work, some other people are proud of their parenting, their hobbies, their friendships, etc.


> other people are proud of their parenting, their hobbies, their friendships, etc.

People can choose to work more or less. But if someone chooses to work less, he forfeits the right to complain about being paid less and being promoted slower compared to people who work more.

The proposed four day work week would increase this disparity between hard workers and "default workers" who work as much as they're told to work, then do other things, some of which you just mentioned. Many people already find vaguely unjust, though it isn't.


Consider that work-hours are not necessarily the only measure of productivity. If i work 100% and do it in 4 days and you work 100% and do it in 6 days, you're the loser in this scenario.




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