Japan’s notoriously rigid work culture may soon come to an end as the government recently unveiled plans to have businesses adopt four-day workweeks.
Work-life balance: The recommendation for an optional shorter workweek is detailed in the country’s annual economic policy guidelines finalized by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet on Friday, Japan Times reported.
- While the initiative has long been proposed, it gained traction due to the COVID-19 pandemic so people could spend more time at home.
- The changes are reportedly meant to give employees more time for their family, education, and social life.
- People with family-care responsibilities will no longer need to quit their jobs, while those who want to study more or get extra work on the side can finally do so.
- A shorter workweek will also reportedly address the challenges caused by the country’s labor shortage.
Early concerns: While many have expressed support over the proposal, experts in the labor and management sectors have voiced concerns about possible negative impacts a four-day workweek would bring.
- Employers expressed worry the supposed increased productivity of a more motivated workforce may not be enough to compensate for the lost workday.
- Some employees are concerned they will earn less if this is implemented.
Test cases: Some companies in Japan had implemented shorter workweeks long before the government began considering such an initiative.
- In 2019, Microsoft Japan instituted a temporary three-day weekend which resulted in a 40% increase in productivity and reduced electricity consumption, the Washington Post reported.
- Yahoo Japan Corp. has been allowing its employees to work only four days a week for those who need it since 2017, according to Japan Times.
Featured Image via Financial Times