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Leisure teleworkers - supposedly working but in fact gaming, day-trading, or scanning for new job opportunities

13 Comments

Telework. A year ago it was “on the horizon,” along with artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, the Internet of Things and so much else – the technology here, the vanguard growing, but still, spoken of more in the future than in the present tense.

Everybody knows what’s happened since. The coronavirus pandemic drove us indoors, online. Evolution became revolution. Telework is growing, spreading, clearly here to stay. “Work” will never be the same.

Spa! (March 23-30) introduces “leisure teleworkers” – by which it means not workers in the leisure industry but workers spending the bulk of their working day gaming, day-trading, movie-watching, husband- or wife-hunting and so on, work being done in fits and starts and reduced, in some cases, to two or three hours a day; more typically, perhaps, to  five or six.

Is Japan’s work ethic eroding? Some say so; others maintain the 8-, 10- or 12-hour working day of old consisted mostly of  time wasted – proof being, they say, that the same jobs are getting done now, faster and more efficiently, leaving room for something the old ways neglected or spurned: namely, private life.

“Now that there’s time, I make a point of cooking lunch every day,” says  28-year-old man in IT sales. “It’s great – my skills are improving!”

“Thanks to the coronavirus,” says a 29-year-old woman in finance, “I spend three to four hours of the working day watching Netflix” – specifically the enormously popular South Korean romantic melodrama “Ai no Fujichaku” (Crash-Landing on You).

“In the sauna,” replies a 24-year-old man in finance to the question of where he spends his telework leisure. Only after working up a healthy and invigorating sweat does he emerge to check his smartphone. Is there anything requiring his attention? If so, he gives it ungrudgingly; if not, back into the sauna, the cares of the workaday world forgotten.

“I’d always left housework up to my wife,” a 44-year-old salesman tells Spa! The new opportunities offered by telework goaded him into “taking up the challenge. My wife and I get along much better now.”

A 30-year-old female office worker is pleased to have more time than ever before to spend on online “matching” – spouse-hunting. “At the office I can’t reply to messages," she says. "Now I can respond immediately. It makes me feel that much closer to the person. We can talk on the phone. We say, ‘Let’s just talk until one of us gets a summons from the office.’ We can talk for half an hour at a time.”

A 51-year-old electrical engineer seems to deliver the older generation’s judgment on this when he says, “I  use my free time to read books useful to my specialty.” But some young people too are not wholly at ease in the newly relaxed atmosphere. A 23-year-old programmer says, “Telework is comfortable enough, I can spend most of the day on gaming, but on the other hand I’m learning almost nothing about my job.”

He’d been with his company barely a  month when the virus struck. He’d barely started learning the ropes. He’s frustrated doing the same elementary tasks over and over, with no chance to proceed upward from there. “I hardly know what it is yet to be a full-fledged adult member of society,” he complains.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

13 Comments
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And this is why, despite the propaganda hype lauding work-from-home, it will never be be the "new norm". Everyone knows a significant number of people will bunk off given half a chance.

Virus will wane, management won't be forced to allow or encourage work-from-home, policy will revert, office life will return, Netflix revenue will decrease, back to how things were, same as it ever was.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

That's what makes WFH so great. One can get the work done in a far more comfortable, less stressful environment, usually in much less time than it would take at the office.

It doesn't matter if people check their personal email, Line, or texts, or bake bread, vacuum, order merchandise, whatever during the workday, as long as they get the work done.

The antiquated attitude that the quantity of time put in is somehow as, or even more, important than the quality of the work is being seen for the old-fashioned false belief that it has always been, but everyone was too afraid to admit.

Sure, many companies and bosses will push to return to the old ways, once the pandemic is under control. But, let's hope that they will be the minority, so that working life can become a little less horrible, and family life a bit better. Then, maybe they'll start to see more people starting families again.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

As long as the work gets done when it needs to get done, then it's all good I suppose.

But Japan is a country where the process of doing things (or looking like something is being done) is just as important as the results (if not more important), so I imagine more traditional companies that have implemented WFH will try to go back to the old ways.

It's ultimately all on a case by case for each company what to do once things calm down but imagine a society where you aren't limited to a geographic location, allowing to focus on family, friends and hobbies. It will also allow Japan to breath, instead of bottling up all in Tokyo.

That sort of relaxed lifestyles that WFH potentially offers could allow for better quality of life for many, more relaxed atmosphere, revival of the countryside and other regional cities in Japan (and thus more ties to the local community), and potentially give people breathing room to innovate and create in ways that the whole 1 hour rush-hour train commute every morning suppressed.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Maybe, just maybe, workers get their work done faster when they don’t have micro-managers hovering over their shoulders.

Maybe workers see something they’d rather be doing than work (vacuum, games, check JapanToday for inane comments like this one) and are more productive. Maybe.

Maybe managers have more busy-work they want their underlings to do rather than actual work and telework has eliminated this busy-work and suddenly - Suddenly! - the coronavirus has shown how unproductive the typical company workers are? Maybe.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Not sure what the problem is. If someone can get a job done in 3 hours instead of 8, then why not let them enjoy the rest of their time?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

-'I hardly know what it is yet to be a full-fledged adult member of society,' he complains.

Actually, he does. It's a treadmill and he is on it.

WFH is a mixed bag. Corporates are cutting their costs (staff can pay for their own electricity, coffee and toilet rolls) and have accepted that they are paying to get tasks done, not to own people for x hours a day.

The downside is that career mobility takes a huge hit. 'Workplace' security is almost impossible. Isolation is a real problem - how long before your home/flat starts to feel like a prison? Many people meet their future partner at work. And a WFH x small children mash up can be a nightmare. Domestic violence has increased dramatically during lockdown.

I wonder how many Japanese people are realising that the noise they feared from nasty foreign AirBnBers can happily be generated by their fellow natives. Japanese apartment walls are not the thickest in the world.

Urban centres, losing their workers, are also losing the trade from them. Having lost the tourists too, parts of urban Japan may begin to match the ghost town chic of rural areas. Rents are not cheap and a drop-off in footfall can easily make a business uneconomic. The shops, restaurants, street traders and izakayas will go. Japan's fabulous rail networks will reduce services and shed staff. Japan may start to feel less like Japan. Solitary confinement is the same the world over.

The UK chancellor has noted that some staff may quit if they are not given the chance to return to an office environment, at least for some of the time.

And some companies simply can't implement WFH. Tech, admin, coding and call centre jobs might be do-able anywhere. Others simply are not.

The future should be more flexible, which is a good thing. And it may give many folk a bit more time with their families or hobbies. But as a species, we generally like to interact, shop and explore. Being forcibly imprisoned in our homes or our countries will see us change jobs and vote our governments out of power. It is not a viable option long term, so get your vaccine when you are offered it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It depends on your job , if I miss a day it has to be caught up on , deadlines still have to be met no matter where are I am .... lucky people if you can slack off

1 ( +1 / -0 )

rainydayApr. 2 01:44 pm JST

''Not sure what the problem is. If someone can get a job done in 3 hours instead of 8, then why not let them enjoy the rest of their time?''

I agree, but there are two problems, corporate greed at some companies and incompetent colleagues.

If you can get the work done in 3 hours, and the Company hears about then they will just say 'well, we only need to pay this guy for 3 hours.'

The colleague who can't finish their work efficiently feels jealous because you appear to be 'slacking off'.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If you can get the work done in 3 hours, and the Company hears about then they will just say 'well, we only need to pay this guy for 3 hours.'

Or they will reward the worker with some extra work. Can't have any kind of incentive for people to be more efficient now, can we?

What kind of signal does it send when you don't reward people for getting the work done faster than what it would usually take?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That’s only working here. In other economically top-ranked countries they fire the half and the rest gets a WFH workload for the official 8 hrs. plus unpaid overtime hrs. to spend ‘voluntarily’, in addition it’s expected to be in reach 24/7 and fully time protocols and surveillance included. That staff will even quickly forget how ‘gaming’ or ‘day-trading’ is spelled. lol Compared to that, it probably has become a little working paradise here, because you even could potentially get a grab to the chance of making a lucky stock or coin trade that brings in a multiple of what you get from your boss, being leveled or increasing denied due to the corona crisis and for other reasons. No guarantee of course, and losses occur, but you have a little free time span to have and use your chance, that many others don’t have, and who knows, someday you maybe even can fire your boss instead....lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is true that WFH pushed me to scan for new jobs as i lost real physical contact with my current company and i can easily see myself WFH for another one with a better salary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And this is giving companies cover to restructure... including mine.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

First, if you are talking about people not doing their jobs, this is a hiring problem, not a problem with teleworking. Second, teleworking requires a lot of focus, and some breaks are needed, so if an employee is meeting reasonable goals, don't stress out about it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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