A man works as his son plays at their house in Chiba Prefecture in this photo taken in March when schools were closed and many company employees were encourage to telework due to the coronavirus. Photo: REUTERS file

Half of telecommuters in Japan work longer hours than before pandemic: Rengo


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"Workers and employers should thoroughly communicate with each other to set rules for teleworking swiftly,"

Reads to me that some employees; for whatever reason, are too passive-aggressive to establish clear work / life boundaries with their employer. Since I've been telecommuting during the pandemic, I've made it very clear to my management and the team that I will provide support during normal established business hours - call me after those hours - you better be ready to fork over the overtime (if I agree to it). If not, the situation waits till the next business day for processing. A lack of planning on someone else's part does not consitute an emergency on my part.

The company I work for was already here before I was hired on, and it'll be here after I leave the company. To use the parlance used by management; it's nothing personal. This isn't my family - it's just a job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, I've put in 18+ hrs a day for months in a row.... And as a Contractor being paid for 7 hrs (9-5 with 1 hr lunch break), you may be asking why... quite simply, the "fear" of loosing ones income.... was the driving motive, as is, I guess for others, who are doing the same. And the Company in question was certainly "Driving" ... those it "Employs", but without distinction between the classification of Permanent "Employee" and those who are Temporary - the latter even being paid less (from what I discovered)...

Companies now, have switched to using Temp. Staff just as they would for permanent positions... the Government has "screwed-up" there... Though with this permanently health damaging Corona virus epidemic, one has to wonder whether the risk of being "Sick" without paid leave, is really worth it, especially as a second class working community citizen - "hakuen"... which has, associated with it, similar issues to the Racial ones being shouted about nowadays.

I raised the issue - since they would not allow us to claim unauthorized overtime, and were continually demanding more, for less, and was promptly "let go"... its no longer a matter of "you get what you paid for"...

So now, I will be a person of "free-time".

Lesson learnt.

Everything in Japan is Shogunai...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"TOP TIP there is an on off button on your lap top, just turn it off and say that's enough for today. its very simple."

In the company I work for (there are others too), the log off/shut down function has been disabled; same as with the switch screen.

You are constantly under surveillance and the bosses will demand to know what you're up to.

It's not like you're a liberty to do as you please, just because you're "working" from home.

And all of this in sunny London.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is so true! Especially if you work in IT. I am a victim to working long hours since COVID-19 and working from home. Everyone thinks your available 24/7 and I am working 16+ hours a day non stop months on and burnt out like no joke. I wish this covid19 would come to an end so we can go back to work and have the managers stop cracking the whip and being so KPI driven and trying to povide visibility on work thats being done. So what do you do CC everyone constantly in every email you shoot out. Micro-manage your outlook schedule and fill it up showing busy so everyone knows your working hard to the grave.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I see from the above comments some are saying that they are working longer whilst they are at home, TOP TIP there is an on off button on your lap top, just turn it off and say that's enough for today. its very simple.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I guess that's why Netflix had so many new subscribers they nearly crashed. I guess that's why home centers had almost sold out of all decorating stuff. I guess that's why trash has tripled as people clearout their junk. I guess that's why sales on Amazon if all kinds of food/drink/furniture etc has soared to an all time great. I guess people were working all hours under the sun while at home

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It seems that some people prefer it and some people don’t like it. I think that after everything goes back to normal, people should choose a job that allows them to follow their preference. 

Things will never go back to "normal" this will be the new normal. People must adapt or be left in the dust.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So glad I didn't work for a Japanese company lol

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It seems that some people prefer it and some people don’t like it. I think that after everything goes back to normal, people should choose a job that allows them to follow their preference. Unfortunately there are those people that say how great it is, except that their wife is also working from home. They have another important choice to make.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not everyone has the character and means to work well from home. One needs to be organized, to have proprer dedicated space and family members/pets from whom you can get enough distance during enough time.

Not easy for everyone.

Personally, I can manage by adjusting my work time over the whole day.

I still need to go to office for many good reasons : socialize to boost colleagues morale and mine, archive papers and get some change of mind helpful to improve my work efficiency with time.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So now they were working like Shachiku and are working like Kachiku. Go figure

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan values social stability more than profiteering in the West. Fax or hanko are still being kept because the government is afraid of a massive social chaos if those industries suddenly cease to exist. Thousands of people will be out of work. The same thing applies with slow adoption of telecommuting. The government fears that companies will abuse telecommuting to make the employment figures looking bad. In truth, no one trusts Japanese labor and economic statistics.

Under Abe, Japan has been selling off their assets to foreigners and allowing foreigners to invest and buy in Japan. This trend certainly means the neoliberalization of Japan is becoming a reality. A world where labor laws and Nihon-nationalist type of laws may cease to exist. Telecommuters of Japan are going to experience the similar hellish landscape of works that Americans do.

This article or story is just the beginning.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Most companies still count "hours in the office" = "work". Sadly, this antiquated idea trickled down the minds of the people, who proves their productivity by "just" being in the office. Multiply this by the absence of concretely defined tasks. You're in your house, without a task to do, stay at your computer thinking what to do and feeling guilty about doing nothing.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

During my teleworking experience, I've noticed that stay-at-women often seemed peeved to see men in the residential area. It's speculative, but I believe Japanese women do NOT want men at home. Many things that we consider "normal culture" are actually done intentionally to get men out of the house.

Take the lunch bento as an example. It communicates so many things when a man brings his bento to work. It's a message in a bottle to everyone at the office.

Wife to Company: I make sure he gets out of the house. I control his money. I decide what he eats. I follow Japan's work culture to a T and accept anything that you do to him. That bento does NOT mean she loves you. She's playing her role. She expects the men to play theirs. Get out of the house and go to work.

Any woman who is NOT happy to see you at home, you should divorce immediately.

During the telework period, women who saw men around the building were immediately put off.

Teleworking is great. My stress levels were much lower. I slept more. I ate better food, because I could prepare my own lunch. I wasn't limited to a convenience store trash food.

The only negative point about teleworking was redecorating and finding a good chair that provided proper lumbar support for long work hours in front of a computer. My home is much cleaner now and more organized. The COVID19 brought of bad, but it also forced up to improve the way we live.

If you are working hours beyond your contractual agreement with your employer, you need to get a lawyer and start litigation. You are not a slave. Unfortunately, in your own mind, you have accepted that.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

"Workers and employers should thoroughly communicate with each other to set rules for teleworking swiftly," Rengo President Rikio Kozu said

i read this three times and I’m still not quite sure what it means.

the employers must be happy with employees working longer hours and not claiming overtime. However, I doubt if employers would pay it anyway without any proof.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've not worked in an office for a long time, but the one I did work in used time cards and seemed to view employees based on them. Are they still in use? Have any new teleworkers out there been using some kind of virtual one?

At my company, our time sheet is based on log-in and log-out time on our laptop. I also have to email my supervisor when I start and finish telework.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've not worked in an office for a long time, but the one I did work in used time cards and seemed to view employees based on them. Are they still in use? Have any new teleworkers out there been using some kind of virtual one?

My wife works part time but has to go upstairs in one building to clock on and leave that building and go to another one where the actual work gets done.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Raise your hands if you’re surprised.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Depending how you want to spin it. Half of all telecommuters in Japan work less than before.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

well of course now that you arent commuting 1.5 hrs to work, the company expects you to work those hours too. Its just a no win situation.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Regarding expenses incurred by teleworking, including internet connection and mobile phone fees, some 66 percent said they pay them out of their own pocket, while 20 percent said they receive subsidies from their workplaces.

This is still ambiguous at my company. We get a commuter allowance and I am not sure I will have to pay it back because I am teleworking everyday. On the other hand, if I can keep it then it basically covers the cost of electricity and internet for working at home.

Secondly about that photo, for child safety, I suggest you do not put the mini-trampoline beside a window.

Finally, most posters here seem to handle telework well but I think the Japanese may be more depressed about it. My neighbor family basically has all curtains slammed shut 24/7 and do not seem to venture outside. My female Japanese coworker seems very depressed working at home with her husband and small children. It is a massive change in mindset.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have been working from home since April and discovered I love it. No more 1 hour commutes to work each day saves me two hours per day and YEN for transportation. (I don't get reimbursed for transportation.) I do tend to work longer hours, but that is because I take more breaks. Once I get up and walk around and then come back to the computer I find my mistakes before sending that email. I'm terrible at proof reading my own work. I find myself being relaxed and focused. My boss likes my work, so it is a win win.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Hope they can claim rent or mortgage as a tax deduction.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I stress that practical benefits of teleworking outweigh its downside as noted above. A compromise might be found in the middle way: commuting fro and to a local office nearby. There are SOHO type "satellite" rooms available, shared with someone working for another firm.

My concern is also about the overall public safety. Other than the current pandemic, physical gatherings in "concentrated" areas for work are vulnerable to downtown-hit emergency events such as an earthquake or terror act. Population and resources better be dispersed as backups.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How about reporting overtime to the company AND to Rengo as a CC: Where would that go? We could see OT cut soon, especially if it's a law.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've worked remotely from home since before 2008 when we did DSL and Dial-up support and you have to learn to manage your own work-life balance. You can't let your bosses do it for you. The problem is people in JP don't stand up for themselves and they get railroaded into working long hours. They may need to get some counseling.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Three thoughts here.

In any 'normal' workday, workers would generally commute to their places of employment. This travel time would normally be in the region of 30-90 minutes depending on the person. As the person telecommuting is not traveling, are their overall hours of work, including what would have been their travel times longer or shorter when compared to working from home? What we are seeing in our environment, is although the actual number of hours worked is slightly longer, the overall work day is shorter.

Secondly, France and some companies have instituted compulsory lockout times in which no company correspondence but be transmitted to the individual. Eg, the email server stops syncing with the employees devices at the end of the normal business day, and starts again the next. No business calls may be placed after hours. Worth considering in Japan?

Lastly, all the information on teleworkers actual work hours are available if the companies actually pull finger out and look for them. Login times and times available to take calls etc. I guess its far easier turning a blind eye and going by the hours the employee submits, accurate or not.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

New style of work will inevitably need to new styles of exploitation. Workers need to collectivize and stand up to unscrupulous employers who seek to use technology to extract ever more output from them.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I've been teleworking for more then 15 years; and it is true, you end up working more and not necessarily making more money.

On the other hand when in office I was always tired. I would have arived there around 10:00 have 2-3 espressos till lunch which took about 2 hours and then at around 14:00 I would be back on my desk and very sleepy because of the lunch. Staring at the screen for another 2-3 hours . Mind you, there were also cigarette breaks back in the olden days. Finally around 18:00 I would go home and actually do some work.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It’s not surprise. We are on our way to get used to new norm.

I think the importance is that government and companies continue to urge employers to take teleworking unless necessaries

Also the government have to urge public schools to adopt something like online learning and provide computers for children who doesn’t own sufficient computers for leaning

3 ( +3 / -0 )

a corporate culture against reporting it.

they pay them out of their own pocket

Geez...just quit your job, there's a shortage of labor in Japan, you see advertising for tenshoku everyday every where.

That's what I did anyway, all interviews online from my home, april/may was a great time to switch job.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I've been teleworking for 10 years and there is nothing better about going to the office. Nothing except being able to see the pretty young ladies that is.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Solution: Get back to the office!

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Monty- My company thinks the same as yours.

We are back full time at the office now since this monday. I really enjoyed working from home, and NO I didn't do overtime. I just did what was expected of me- no more and no less. I miss working from home. It worked for me..

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Of course, one big aspect working against teleworking in Japan is the almost universal disdain the average Japanese wife has towards her husband, as perhaps even vice versa. Not many people want to work in an atmosphere you could cut with a knife. Many guys I work with hang around after 5:30pm not because they are swamped with work, but because they have no real desire to go home.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

I think what we can draw from this article is that Japan seriously needs to get into gear when it comes to not only teleworking but also online education. Concepts that were 15-20 years down the road were accelerated and now the regulations and labor laws need to catch up. Economically, cost sharing for internet use, mobile phones and utilities should be addressed immediately. Workers should not have to pay out of pocket; as a temporary fix perhaps their commute allowance could cover this, not sure, but something to investigate. As for education, I would venture to say that most Japanese homes do not have a PC and rely mostly on smartphones. It's nearly impossible to conduct on line classes over a 4G network and a tiny screen. How is the government going to subsidize high speed internet connection and PCs for households that can't provide? Abe has a lot of work if he wants to get Japan ready for their "with Corona" society.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

For many working from home,they feel they have to justify it by working longer.When work evaluation time comes, some of my students are worried that teleworking will lessen their bonus,being not in the office.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I've worked from home as a freelancer for 8 years and previously worked for the same time at a company here. It is true that you can easily become a workaholic and work too long. Basically working from home means it is very hard to switch over to relaxing. It's certainly not for everyone and you have to be disciplined and draw the line where work and play time start and end.

Since many Japanese have a hive-mindset I cannot see many of them enjoying the work at home idea. They are also overly concerned with what others think about them so not putting on a shirt and tie in the morning and commuting to work to join the masses probably feels unnatural to most.

Not being able to talk to colleagues is a huge thing if you are a social animal. You really have to take up a sport or some social hobby if you plan to work from home. Overall though, it is much healthier and rewarding than commuting. I've hardly caught a cold in the years working from home and spend more time with my kids.

20 ( +20 / -0 )

You guys are lucky.

My company doesn't like Telework. Everyday I have to go to the office.

But that is the old fashioned thinking of the japanese management here.

They think that the employees will drink and play around during home office hours, and that they don't work.

Come to office to show up. If you do some work or not at the office, nobody cares.

But at least you showed up.

24 ( +24 / -0 )

Personally I found working from office a lot more efficient as compared to working from home. Because I know I have to leave work by 18:00 or 19:00 somehow. But working from home things just tend to get dragged on and on because of various reasons. I work for a lot longer hours but the productivity is still the same or less.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

"Probably think their bosses are literally checking to make sure they are doing something!"

Well, our bosses here in sunny Britain have access to your PC (if "yer werking" from home) and they're constantly on the look-out. Teleworkers are being pressurised to work even more than before.

It's hardly a "only in Japan thing".

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Japanese companies still believe the amount of hours you work doing nothing is the best way. Most jobs could be completed in a few hours a day versus the typical 8 hour schedule.

28 ( +29 / -1 )

If this comes as a surprise it just means you know nothing about this country. I doubt if employees and employers alike have even noticed.

Although much forf what they say here is being repeated all round the world, although it is probably more extreme in Japan

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mirai Hayashi If you ended up working 7pm - 11pm that's your own fault for not managing your time correctly.

Perhaps you work less hours in the office but spend 1hour + before and after work enjoying the sweet smell of unwashed salaryman rubbing against your body as you play Russian roulette with Covid on packed trains/buses.

I've been teleworking since mid March and we are more efficient, less stressed, and more flexible for childcare, doctor visits and whatever else crops up.

Only downside is my Mrs is working from home too!

32 ( +39 / -7 )

I did telework once and it totally wasn't worth it. I wound up working from 7am to 11PM.... I'd rather just come to the office and work a lot shorter hours

-25 ( +8 / -33 )

I've been working from home since mid-March and I can confirm this for my workplace at least in the beginning. But the surprising thing I've learned is that our workflow when teleworking became more efficient since there were less useless meetings, people were working earlier and were less tired from commuting which surprisingly resulted in us spending shorter hours at work. I really wish we could stay like this even after this pandemic blows over, I'm really looking forward to this becoming the new normal

27 ( +31 / -4 )

967 deaths in Japan so far.

Not much of an epidemic really...

-21 ( +11 / -32 )

Not surprising, and I will bet many feel "guilty" because they are working from home and not trudging into the office everyday!

Probably think their bosses are literally checking to make sure they are doing something!

22 ( +28 / -6 )

If this comes as a surprise it just means you know nothing about this country. I doubt if employees and employers alike have even noticed.

25 ( +27 / -2 )

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