Employees show increased ability to eat lightning, crap thunder, and actually go home on time.

While overtime is a common part of the Japanese workday, companies don’t necessarily want employees staying at their desks for hours after the designated quitting time. Recent incidents have raised Japanese society’s awareness about the health risks of habitual overwork, and even from an efficiency standpoint, employees who’re resigned to being stuck at the office until late at night probably aren’t going to be putting much effort into getting their tasks done in a timely manner.

To help cut down the amount of unneeded and potentially harmful overtime its employees are doing, residential construction company Mitsui Home has started playing a special piece of music in certain departments of its Tokyo headquarters at six o’clock, the official end of its workday. Other companies have introduced similar measures, but instead of a series of relaxing chimes, what pumps through Mitsui Home’s in-office speakers is the 1977 hit “Gonna Fly Now,” better known as the Rocky theme.

Once the familiar notes of the icon of pugilistic cinema begin to play, employees stand up at their desks and tell their coworkers whether they’ll be working overtime that day or not. Those sticking around receive advice from their supervisors about the best way to tackle their remaining objectives for the day, or offers of help from any of their colleagues willing to pitch in.

By musically punctuating the end of the standard workday, the Rocky theme was chosen to help employees who might have been just going through the motions mentally change gears. Some realize they’ve accomplished enough for the day and feel comfortable heading home, while others get a boost of energy from the rousing movie anthem that helps them power through the rest of their work with enthusiasm.

It’s not just idle speculation that’s behind Mitsui Home’s continued use of the Rocky theme, either. An internal study by the company revealed that since the system’s introduction, overtime has been reduced by over 20 percent in departments that play “Gonna Fly Now” at 6 o’clock, proving that the theme can make people not only ready to punch out heavyweights, but to punch out of work too.

Source: Asahi Shimbun Digital via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he always wished his old office would play the Shaft theme.