Walk through any major train station in Japan during rush hour, and you’ll see a sea of navy blue and black suits, because if you’re an employee of one of the country’s leading corporations, office formal is pretty much your standard attire. However, one of Japan’s largest companies, telecommunications giant KDDI, has decided it’s time to loosen both its collar and dress code.
This week, KDDI, which also manages the au mobile phone network, announced that it has scrapped its company-wide suit-and-tie requirement. In recent years, a number of Japanese offices have been experimenting with what’s been dubbed “cool biz,” allowing workers to go without ties during the summer months in order to reduce the amount of electricity used on air conditioning. The primary motivation for KDDI’s dress code shift isn’t ecological, though, but psychological. “So as not to be bound by conventional stereotypes, and to promote a working style of new ideas and values, we are abolishing the company-wide suit-and-tie dress code,” said KDDI in its press release, as well as “Our aim is to achieve the sustained growth of our company through increased independence and productivity of each individual employee.”
The relaxed dress code quietly went into effect in October, but KDDI has another change planned for this coming spring. In April, 106 of its offices will transition to completely smoke-free facilities. While it’s been several decades since unrestricted smoking was allowed in Japanese workspaces, it’s still common for offices, particularly large ones, to have designated smoke break areas. KDDI will be getting rid of those at the designated offices, however, as part of its worker health initiative that seeks to bring the smoking rate among its workers down below 18 percent by the end of March 2021.
While KDDI’s central management is no longer forcing employees to wear suits and ties, individual divisions are still allowed to set dress codes, and it’s likely formal attire will still be required for employees in business-to-business sales and other positions which require them to deal with counterparts who’re likely to be dressed in suits. Still, the door is now open for managers to let employees do their work in more casual and comfortable clothes, and since KDDI’s central management isn’t making any dress code demands, hopefully the company’s female employees can bid high-heel-induced foot pain goodbye too.
Source: KDDI via IT Media
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