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Maybe it's time to show this report your employer?
- Microsoft Japan recently completed its experimental "Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019" program.
- The program involved giving employees five consecutive Fridays off, cutting the duration of meetings, and encouraging online chats instead of face-to-face ones.
- Some research echoes Microsoft Japan's recent report, suggesting that cutting the workweek can boost productivity.
'Karoshi' and karojisatsu'<p>About 92 percent of employees said they liked switching to the four-day workweek. That's perhaps unsurprising for a company based in Japan, where the severe work culture requires many people to work overtime for little to no extra pay, sometimes leaving them dangerously exhausted. In fact, being overworked to death — by stroke, heart attack, etc. — is common enough that the Japanese have a word for it: karoshi. There's also a word for workers who commit suicide due to work-related stress: karojisatsu<em>.</em></p><p>Stories of karoshi and karojisatsu — such as a 31-year-old journalist who logged 159 hours of overtime in the month before she died of heart failure — have encouraged Japan to pass laws promoting work-life balance, including <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-dentsu-overwork/japans-dentsu-gets-only-small-fine-for-overtime-breaches-despite-outcry-idUSKBN1CB0IS" target="_blank">caps on overtime hours</a>. Still, critics of Japan's work culture argue the regulations — some of which allow employees to work 100 hours of overtime in a month — don't go far enough.</p>
Work-life balance<p>But, like Microsoft Japan, some companies have taken matters into their own hands, passing strange policies to discourage overwork, such as making employees wear purple "<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/japan-is-facing-a-death-by-overwork-problem-2018-3" target="_blank">embarrassment capes</a>" if they work too late, or flying music-playing drones around the office to announce it's time to leave.</p><p>More broadly, research suggests that cutting the workweek and making schedules more flexible can boost productivity and employee satisfaction. The <a href="https://hbr.org/2019/08/is-it-time-to-let-employees-work-from-anywhere" target="_blank"><em>Harvard Business Review</em></a>, for example, reported that a Chinese travel agency saw a 13-percent increase in productivity when it allowed call center employees to work remotely. In New Zealand, one <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/world/asia/four-day-workweek-new-zealand.html" target="_blank">company</a> permanently switched to a four-day workweek in 2018, leading to a 24-percent productivity increase.</p>
Richard Branson's utopian vision of the workweek<p>To some business leaders, switching to a less intensive workweek is inevitable, as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson <a href="https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/richard-branson-shorter-work-week" target="_blank">wrote</a> in a 2018 <a href="https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/way-we-all-work-going-change" target="_blank">blog post:</a></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The idea of working five days a week with two day weekends and a few weeks of holiday each year has become ingrained in society. But it wasn't always the case, and it won't be in the future. Could people eventually take three and even four day weekends? Certainly. Will job-sharing increase? I think so. People will need to be paid the same or even more for working less time, so they can afford more leisure time. That's going to be a difficult balancing act to get right, but it can be done. If it works for individuals and works for businesses, everyone would want to spend more time with their loved ones, more time exploring their passions, more time seeing the world outside of an office and more time getting healthy and fit."</p>
The power to predict the next revolution keeps companies on top.
- In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors placed in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years, meaning computing power doubles while the size of devices shrink. This is known as Moore's law.
- IBM was king of the heap in the 1950s, says physicist Michio Kaku, however it failed to read Moore's law as a sign that supercomputers would be replaced by smart phones — handheld devices that contain more computing power than NASA at the time of the Moon landing.
- Microsoft rose up in IBM's ashes by predicting the age of personal computing, but they too failed to account for an exponential change: the internet. The next revolution is 5G and AI, and companies who are setting themselves up for that future will be the ones who rise to the top.
Hackers look for open doors. If your personal data isn't protected, it's that much easier to compromise your identity.
- Legendary con-man-turned-FBI-consultant Frank W. Abagnale breaks down the 2017 Equifax data breach.
- Hackers were able to access the personal data of millions of Americans through faulty software — and they might wait years before using the stolen social security numbers and dates of birth.
- Abagnale blames Equifax for this oversight. If a company is entrusted with an individual's personal data they need to do a better job of protecting it. "Hackers don't cause breaches, people do," he says.
Half of Americans do not trust the federal government or social media sites to protect their data.
Against the backdrop of a "techlash", the CEO of Microsoft called for new global norms on privacy, data and Artificial Intelligence.