Japanese companies have increased their use of teleworking in an attempt to protect their employees from contracting the coronavirus by limiting their exposure to the virus on public transport or in company offices. The measure also allows businesses to maintain productivity during the crisis that has seen production halt in a number of firms.
Coronavirus prevention is better than cure
Staffing agency Pasona Group Inc. is urging its 13,000 contract and other employees to either travel to their offices during off-peak times or work from home. The company’s teleworking initiative is in place until the end of February but may be extended if the situation hasn’t improved.
Healthcare company, Euglena Co. is also requesting that any of its staff who commute by train change their working hours or work from home between now and February 14. The firm took similar action when the Japan was hit by a major typhoon last year. “Employees were able to do their work without being caught up in traffic chaos,” a company official said of the experience.
In China, Fujitsu directed its employees in Shanghai to work from home until Friday while Nomura Holdings Inc. ordered employees who returned from China not to come to work for 14 days, during which time the workers could choose to work from home.
In light of recent events, we may see firms expanding their use of teleworking in future as an emergency measure during times of disaster.
Healthcare company, Euglena Co. is requesting that any of its staff who commute by train change their working hours or work from home
Teleworking to reduce Olympic congestion
The trend of using information technology to work from home or other remote locations has actually been growing in recent times due to government efforts to promote it as a means of reducing traffic congestion during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Companies on board with the initiative include Mitsubishi Chemical who plan to use a video-conferencing system and other online tools to keep 150 staff members away from their head office during the Olympic Games. The company headquarters is very close to Tokyo Station.
Homebuilder Daiwa House Industry is also trying out the telework option with some 3,000 of its employees in Tokyo. Around 20 of them will be relocated to a hotel run by the group firm to work while enjoying a vacation at the same time – known as a ‘workation’.
Due in part to an increase in telework, as well as people replacing their Windows 7 operating systems, domestic shipments of personal computers in Japan rose by 37.4 per cent in 2019. The surge in demand for PCs was also aided by last-minute buying ahead of the consumption tax hike on Oct. 1.
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The coronavirus outbreak compels reluctant Japanese companies to adopt more teleworking options – and who knows, the move might become a permanent feature of work life in Japan.