business

Olympic crowd crush expected as Japan Inc rules out work from home

39 Comments
By Chris Gallagher

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
Login to comment

"To be honest, at first I felt sorry because everyone was working in the office and only I was at home," Tanimura said at the company's headquarters, just over a five-minute walk from the new Olympic stadium. "But I was being evaluated in terms of whether I achieved results ... my performance didn't decline."

A lot of people here still have the viewpoint that you have to put on a suit and get on a crowded every morning to go to your office. One of my friends works for his company at home and people, including his family, treat him like he is some unemployed loser even though he is making the same salary as co-workers going to the office.

25 ( +26 / -1 )

Of course companies are against it: remote work requires that management trust their subordinates, but this doesn’t fit with the classic micro-management patterns Japan loves so much.

31 ( +33 / -2 )

I think it's too late to contain the virus. It is out. Gov. should focus on supporting the doctors and scientists who are developing diagnostics and therapeutics.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

They wont let them work from home because it's hard for most of these companies to push their paper around outside of the office!

Not to mention issues of trust, and control. Added on top of all these reasons is that it's more than likely that most of the companies that wont allow their employees to work from home CAN'T, because they dont have the proper infrastructure to accomplish it!

11 ( +14 / -3 )

To be honest, most people will just have to expect and plan for extended commute times.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This does not bode well with the health minister's statement of telling people to avoid crowds to control the spread of coronavirus. Hopefully, it will be under control by the time the Olympics come around.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Japanese society has collective thoughts.Most do not make independent decisions.If you ask a Japanese person a question,he/she will in most occasions consult a senior(先輩)that is how Japanese education system has been structured and that is why they cannot be expected to work alone,must be in a group.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

"But I was being evaluated in terms of whether I achieved results ... my performance didn't decline."

Super rare in Japan, most people are evaluated on effort rather than results. Good for her and her company!

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Super rare in Japan, most people are evaluated on effort rather than results. Good for her and her company!

A case where the author researched to find a situation to fit the story!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It also points to a potential headache amid growing concern about the coronavirus epidemic that had killed nearly 1,800 in mainland China as of Monday and has spread to a number of countries in Asia including Japan. While companies elsewhere are drawing up contingency plans with large portions of staff working from home in a bid to contain the virus, most Japanese firms would have to implement radical change to follow suit.

Maybe they'll change their minds when lots of people from different offices get the virus and they are then forced to make them work from home...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

YubaruToday 08:18 am JST

Super rare in Japan, most people are evaluated on effort rather than results. Good for her and her company!

A case where the author researched to find a situation to fit the story!

Yes, Sunny Side Up is so far from your typical Japanese company they could be space aliens.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

But others said they simply did not have a flexible-work policy in place, or did not have the technological set-up to allow people to work remotely.

Use Skype, Zoom or any other online video conferencing sites available. There are dozen and dozens and many are very good (and free in many instances i.e. Zoom).

Written correspondence, the usual Word, Excel, PDF etc., are all sent by email/chat which doesn't require face to face interaction.

Jumping to teleconferencing doesn't require much of a leap; so many companies overseas have done it. Even I've made it work and I'm all thumbs with technology.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Yeah and after all the money spent by the government fat cats the last few years “studying” telework for the Olympics.....there will be none. Great.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Yeah and after all the money spent by the government fat cats the last few years “studying” telework for the Olympics.....there will be none. Great.

Yep...J-govt efficiency at its best...whats not to love :)

Now..for more taxes anyone?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

to be fair, it can be quite cost-prohibitive for companies to implement telework. you just can't simply use your own computer at home because of security concerns. and furthermore, it's just not feasible for the vast majority of companies to implement. manufacturing, which japan is a major source of, is the main reason why you get the 73% in this survey. retail, restaurants, entertainment...add it up and in actuality, only a small fraction of companies can really benefit fromm telework. so for me, the percentage from the survey seems just about right. and compared to global telework rate, which is 70%, japan ain't doing too bad.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Thank heavens I won't have anything to do with all that mess which is going to happen in Tokyo.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

My husband could 100% do his job from home. If he only went to the office once or twice a week it would be completely fine. But he works for the government and gotta get the higher up's hanko on absolutely everything so they have to go in. Yeah, works for the government, job is almost entirely online, and they still wouldn't let them work from home.

Just in case you were wondering how much the government actually gives a s***.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

73% aren't considering making telecommuting possible = 27% are. I would like to know more about the profiles of the two groups. It seems to me that the small-medium businesses are less likely but large employers, like Fujitsu, Asahi, Pasona, along with international companies are more likely to have policies and infrastructure in place to allow telecommuting. If we could take even 20% of the working stiffs off the rush hour trains, it would make things more bearable for those whose jobs require them to be in situ.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I think Olympics should be cancelled due to the wide spread of COVID-19

but they wont cancel it because money more important

4 ( +6 / -2 )

My office told us to telework as much as possible until the coronavirus situation is clearer so I am at home all this week and next week. It is kind of boring without the human interactions and lunch with the colleagues but I am happy to avoid the morning crush and the coronavirus.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

What they're really afraid of is that it might work, because it would threaten the unwritten corporate law of rewarding loyalty rather than competence.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

This plan won't work because as Abe said about Sakura party. They don't have a digital copy of people that attend the party, plus some handicapped guy shredded the last physical copy.

So now how you imagine working from home and have all that evidence on the internet.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

At Government Offices right now, they are introducing a "Flextime System" with fixed hours, where you can choose from 4 time windows (7:30~16:15, 8:30~16:45, 9:00~17:45 or 9:30~18:15).

Flextime. With fixed hours. That still confuses me. Is that how it usually works?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The idiocy of the Abe administration is mind boggling…

4 ( +5 / -1 )

At Government Offices right now, they are introducing a "Flextime System" with fixed hours, where you can choose from 4 time windows (7:30~16:15, 8:30~16:45, 9:00~17:45 or 9:30~18:15).

Can I mix and match? If so I choose 9:30 - 16:15.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

My company is counted in the "allowing" group because technically we have it, but it's restricted to (1) pregnant women, and (2) mothers of small children. Wonderful for them, but for the rest of us...

Everybody else has to get on those crowded rush hour trains and come to work. There was talk of moving the standard work hours forward or backward two hours to alleviate some of the train-crowd problem, but it went nowhere.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

lol Flex-Time

Again, my husband who works at a government office works from about 9am to 11pm on average. About half of the time he has to go in early or stay later than that as well. Oh, and because they constantly change their office location for whatever reason his commute is 2 hours and 20 minutes each way.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Again, my husband who works at a government office works from about 9am to 11pm on average. 

Is he really working, or is he merely at the office looking busy? Japanese workers are some of the most inefficient in the industrialized world.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The company in the story that allows one worker to telework due to special circumstances is....(wait for it).... a "communications firm".

That's where we are folks!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Chip Star

If it were anyone else I would say yes but no he's working. This only began after his job changed. He'll be the first person to complain about people wasting time at work. He got his degrees in the States and worked abroad in his formative years so luckily he doesn't care for meaningless bureaucracy.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@73% of firms surveyed said they aren't considering allowing what Japan often refers to as telework, or telecommuting, during this summer's Tokyo Olympic Games, according to the survey conducted from Jan 30 to Feb 12.

These are all the companies where the Chiefs are over 60, sitting doing nothing but pretending they are needed and busy, we all see them and know the drill. These old guys should be retired so that innovation and change can press forward. My company business expanded and actually reduced the size of office space due to telework. Happy employees equals increased productivity which leads to profit and record growth. Telework is awesome and highly encouraged. It gave the employees the time they needed to get things done at their comfort level without causing stress on their duties or families. Too bad more companies are not doing the same and end up punishing their employees with old style outdated business principles. No wonder the economy is stagnant vs fresh and innovative.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Teleworking in Japan means a fax on every desk so staff can communicate with the person next to them. It's no wonder companies are hesitant to do this. The amount of fax machines required, ink. I see why it's prohibitive.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Again, my husband who works at a government office works from about 9am to 11pm on average. About half of the time he has to go in early or stay later than that as well. Oh, and because they constantly change their office location for whatever reason his commute is 2 hours and 20 minutes each way.

My engineers nor any of the staff have ever worker those ridiculous hours and instead work at their leisure where they are most productive and creative. As a result, business has increased two-fold, less errors in designs, more profit margin & work requiring us to add staff. We have tripled our staffing, expanded the business into bigger markets and recently added 2 more executive managers. In the lower-end jobs the workers put in their 40 hrs and go home, weekends off.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@rgcivilian1

I mean my husband isn't an engineer and there's no set amount of tasks for him necessarily, he just has to do whatever comes when it comes. He's sort of a PR/Media guy and unfortunately the only Japanese person essentially in the building that speaks English so not only does he have to deal with the Japanese media, he's the only one that can deal directly with international media. He requested English speakers to help him deal with the foreign press but they hired a French man who doesn't speak Japanese (and a couple others along the same lines) so actually it's just more work for him. Not to mention, since it's March they're bringing on a dozen or so people on board but they're all recruitment hires so there's no one to train them... the people who are already working their a**** off need to train them. It happens every year and almost all of them leave because the environment is so volatile.

Productivity in this country is so low it's bananas. Unless you're absolutely working your dream job and you love it you're not going to put you're all into anything that takes 14 hours a day. Productivity will always be higher with a better work-life balance. I've lost faith in Japan ever accepting this, unfortunately. Luckily my husband will be off contract in 2021 and he can put his focus back into his other business ventures.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Olympics aside, establishing a culture of working remotely in Japan is paramount to any chance of reviving the sputtering rural areas of that country.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Again, my husband who works at a government office works from about 9am to 11pm on average. 

Most people who work in government offices could probably not even show up to work and nothing would be amiss!

So your husband is putting in over 100 Hours of overtime every week! He aint going to last long!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Yubaru

True. Most regular workers can shuffle around doing busy work but I think you can say that for most industries. My husband is (luckily) only contracted until the end of a specific event happening this year.

As for his overtime, yeah that sounds about right. Although, officially, he only works 45 hours of overtime a month. Officially. You know.

Again, luckily he enjoys his job for the most part. No one would enjoy working that much but it does soften the blow to have a job you don't hate. Also knowing that it will be over soon helps.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Fax machines will fly before telework becomes commonplace.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Fax machines will fly before telework becomes commonplace.

A fax machine will be a vital bit of teleworking kit, preferably a flying one.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites