Recently, Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications are trying to promote the telework and to improve its recognition in the country. Telework makes use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and it is a flexible way of work which is not bound to the place and time of working.
People who are engaging in telework are called teleworkers. Telework has a lot of merits, such as the decrease of the environmental burden of commuting, the growth of job creation for the elderly, the disabled and mothers who are pregnant or parenting, and the improvement of a work-life balance.
It also solves the problems for people who cannot make use of their skills because of their partner’s frequent relocations, for people who cannot commute as they are taking care of children or the elderlies, who are not able to get moved to the branch where they are supposed to be positioned for some reasons. There are many people who wish to do telework, but it remains to be an unfamiliar option.
One of the reasons why telework is not very common is that there are a lot of burdens for companies such as the introduction of new ICT and a change of labour control method. Therefore, companies are reluctant to renew their management styles.
However, it is clear that it will yield a great profit for both companies and workers in case they properly introduce and pursue this system.
Now, we would like to show various merits and information concerning the activation of human resources by telework.
Who can work actively as teleworkers?
Teleworkers, the signifying people who engage in telework, are divided into three types: people who work at home, mobile workers, and people who use facilities such as satellite offices.
Although telework is not very common yet and the population of teleworkers is still small, what kind of people can we expect to work actively if this way of work is diffused?
Homemakers whose partners have a lot of relocations
Lately, homemakers whose partners have a lot of relocations are choosing to be teleworkers.
In Japanese society, there are still so many homemakers who stop or give up their own careers because of relocations of their partners, but the number of these people who decide to be teleworkers is growing.
Once homemakers move to a new town, they often experience the difficulty of finding jobs because local companies are willing to hire people who can work for a long period. That is why many homemakers have no choice but to stay at home preparing for the next relocation even though they have skills.
On the contrary, teleworkers get a lot of flexibility in terms of time, and they can work wherever if they have enough internet access.
Many homemakers appreciate telework because they are able to avoid to stop their career interruption, and they can balance family life and work more easily.
Even if their partners need to move abroad often, they can continue working. Rather, they may make use of the difference in time.
Mothers who are parenting
The parenting support system of the Japanese government is still on the way, and the number of mothers who stop their career because of parenting does not decrease well.
Even though they luckily return to work, some of them end up quitting their jobs for several reasons. For example, they feel pressure since they often have to take a day off for nursing their sick kids; their working hours and the time of parenting do not reconcile. Also, they reach the limit of their physical strength because of the long commuting time, etc.
For companies too, it is a huge loss to keep loosing skillful workers that they have hired and raised.
Most of these problems can be solved if companies adopt and make use of telework.
Whether companies embrace telework or not, it can be the key to stop running off female workers who address parenting after giving birth.
The elderlies and the people with disabilities
There are the elderlies and people with disabilities who lose the chance of making use of their high skills because of the obstacles such as commuting, working hours and office environment etc.
By activating their performance thanks to the character of telework, which does not limit place and time to work, it enables to promote the independence in these people.
Employees who are convalescing for their injuries or illnesses
If a company, which is employing people who are receiving medical treatment at home, decides to adopt telework system, the employees are able to keep working without taking a sick leave or a period of absence.
The company does not need to hire the replacement temporarily while that person is convalescing because there is almost no hole to be filled.
Employees may not need to take a whole day off any more to go to the hospital.
Introduction and implementation rate of telework among Japanese companies
According to the Communications Usage Trend Survey carried out by Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in 2017, 13.9% of Japanese companies are introducing telework, and its 29.9% are adopting telework from home, its 56.4% are adopting mobile work, and its 12.1% are adopting telework using the facilities.
The same survey shows that the number of companies that introduce telework is gently growing.
Among the major companies, MUFG Bank, Ltd., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Mizuho Financial Group, Inc., Sompo Holdings, Inc., Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Toyota Motor Corporation, Honda Motor Company, Ltd., Recruit Holdings Co.,Ltd., Calbee Inc. are introducing telework, mostly telework from home.
Reference: Communications Usage Trend Survey
Adoption rate is only 5% after the introduction
Among companies which are introducing telework and are holding more than 30 employees, the average of adoption rate of telework remains to be only 5%. One of the reasons is that there is a strong feeling that this system was set up “for women.” Therefore, young male employees hesitate to utilize it anticipating what their boss would think.
It can be normal that employees are reluctant to use the system of teleworking under such circumstances.
Reference: Communications Usage Trend Survey
Anyone has a right to engage in telework
Telework is not only a “system for women whose partners have a lot of relocations or women who are taking care of children or the elderlies.”
Indeed, it is true that many of these women engage in it, and its number also can be growing from now on as it enables them to continue working. However, if a company introduces telework, anybody can choose to use it, and it is what the Japanese government is recommending.
Type of work for which teleworkers can utilize their skills
In most of the types of work, teleworkers can work actively while certain arrangements to introduce telework are required in some business types.
The company’s improvement in its business performance, such as decreasing the number of employees who need to take leave and corresponding to relocations of the family of their employees depends on the framework and the policy of each company rather than business type or occupation. Now, let’s see types of work which are suitable for telework.
Upper management including the corporate manager is in very important position for a request for decision, etc.
There are many various documents they need to deal with, and they also often need to go out to their business partners’ places or to the branch offices.
For the introduction of telework to this type of work, it is good to make use of video conference or chat tool for providing directions or doing meetings, and make the final decision electronically using groupware etc.
The adoption of telework by upper management contributes to accelerating the procedures of important paperwork, so there is a huge merit to companies.
Accounting and personnel are the keystones of a company. However, thanks to the promotion of ICT, it is no more necessary that all the staffs are always staying in their company.
It is one of the easiest tasks to carry out by telework since most of their tasks can be dealt with the decided rules.
In parallel to going paperless and electronification of a request of decision, drastic adoption of telework in administration department should be considered .
Forming individuals’ ideas are done separately, so it depends on where and when they think of ideas.
Therefore, it can be said that the creative department is suitable to adopt telework which is not bound to time and space.
When it is necessary to do the meeting, they can make use of the tools such as web conference system or video calls. Unless they need to use special tools or application for their tasks, introduction of telework is highly recommended.
Workers of the IT department tend to have a lot of business trips and work very early or late for controlling system and performing its maintenance.
By adopting telework, which is more flexible for business hours, it is possible to decrease dramatically the burden of these workers who have irregular work hours.
Merits of teleworkers
It is said that diffusion of teleworking will bring great profit to individuals, companies, and society. Let’s see what kind of effect is expected from each viewpoints.
Merits for individual workers
The biggest merit for teleworkers must be the decrease of commuting time, business trips, and relocations.
It is not only a merit for individuals, but also for companies and society.
One of the reasons why the Japanese government promotes telework is to improve work-life balance by reconciling the time of work and others. Decreasing the commuting time or business trips and minimizing relocations enable working people to spend their time for various opportunities other than working, such as enjoying conversations with their families, enjoying their leisuries, and improving their skills. It means their “life” time will be enriched.
Having a fulfilled life leads workers to improve their productivity and make good influence on work. They may gain some qualification regarding their work or they may move ahead in their career. Thus, being fulfilled at “work” now fulfills “life”. It creates a virtuous circle which enriches both work and life.
Merits for companies
In the context of falling birth rate, lack of human resources is a serious problem for any domain of work.
One possible reason why it is difficult to hire needed human resources is that the recruitment activity is based on searching for people who can commute. If companies recruit from all over the world, they must have much more human resources.
In addition, by adopting telework, companies can avoid loosing their employees who take care of the elderlies and children. Then, the motivation and performance of their employees may improve, and a decrease in the rate of early retirement can be anticipated.
Corresponding to various ways of working will give a good impression of the company, which brings a bigger number of job-hunters who wish to enter the company, and it permits them to recruit competent human resources.
Then the more teleworkers lead to the less office space needed, and minimizing business trips and relocations reduce fixed and operating costs.
Especially, minimizing relocations, which give a huge environmental burden to both employees and their families, enables the company to make a deep cut of cost to assure their living environment.
Merits for society
As there will be more time for leisure, it contributes to boosting individual consumptions, and we can anticipate economic effect of consumption increase. Low birthrate may improve too as the option of telework, which reconciles parenting and work, reassures people who are worried about their career while parenting.
Additionally, lessening of commuter rush in big cities and downsizing of office buildings contribute to the reduction of the crowded public transportation system, traffic jam and CO2.
Further, the worker who used to have no choice but living in big cities for commuting can move to wherever they want thanks to telework. It will lessen excess concentration of the population, and it will contribute to the revitalization of local communities.
Disadvantages of telework
For the diffusion of telework, there are problems to overcome for both individual workers and companies. Let’s see each of these problems from the viewpoints of improvement of the environment and evaluation of work.
Disadvantages for individual workers
As there are many small residences in Japan, it is sometimes difficult to secure a proper working space at home. Even if they can have the space, unwanted noise from outside, daily life noise, or kids’ voice may distract teleworkers.
Also, improvement of working environment and control of working hours for telework must be made by individuals.
The evaluation of their tasks shall be basically only on their “results”.
They tend not to be considered on how much they have done these tasks beforehand, how long they spent to deal with these tasks, or how much effort they have made etc. as they used to be at their offices.
Disadvantages for companies
What companies are most worried about, or one of the reasons why the diffusion of the teleworker in Japan does not work very well, is a scandal based on the divulging of information.
To build an ironclad defense to prevent malicious act at the business office with a tight security for entering and leaving already needs enormous energy. Controlling information at home is even more difficult.
However, we can contrive to minimize the risk utilizing security methods of precedent telework advanced nation or latest tools nowadays.
What prevents Japan from diffusing teleworkers is a stereotyped notion that degradation of employees’ performance could be occurred due to the absence of their managers.
Lately there are many types of tasks for which it is difficult to evaluate the results of employees by their working attitude.
Companies must introduce a new system which exclusively and fairly evaluates the outcomes and reconsiders traditional company policy, customs, and rules for the diffusion of telework.
Mamasan&Company where teleworkers in Japan and abroad work actively in various domains of expertise
Specialist remote workers from Japan and various countries all over the world gather at Mamasan&Company.
Most of the workers are mothers who are parenting or whose partners have a lot of relocations. Also, the number of men who are doing double work or who are retired is also growing recently.
These workers work under the security control using a high Information technology, with thoroughgoing visualization and manualization of tasks so that we can provide high quality of service to customers.
Hassle-free oversea relocations
Many workers are living in the U.S.A., Europe or Southeast Asia affiliated with Mamasan&Company. Their reasons for residing abroad vary, such as relocations of their partners, international marriage, or immigration, etc.
These workers work actively, making use of each of their skills based on the good teamwork. This strong relationship where they do not feel the distance is realized by the use of chat tools and a particular cloud server.
Various type of work and supporting system
At Mamasan&Company, there are many and various specialists such as personnel, general affairs, accounting, IT technicians, designers, translators, writers etc.
We have dealt with numerous requests, and manualization of each tasks and supporting system of senior Mama are already established. With our experience, we can give high performance in no time.
Because Mamasan&Company is handling a wide range of tasks, all the tasks are manualized, and senior Mama’s support system is well established, new workers can be immediate assets with their previous experience.
In the business development of modern Japan, electronification and information technology innovation were historical changes. Likewise, introduction of the teleworker for the further development of our future is a very important action. The diffusion of teleworkers possibly prevents stagnation of women’s career forming, such as stopping or changing job accompanied by their partners’ relocations. If the introduction of telework advances successfully, it will greatly contribute to solving the shortage of human resources that Japan is predicted to face with.
It is important for companies to revise traditional companies’ policies or rules, controlling methods and evaluation standards of human resources, and to shift each tasks to a teleworkable tasks.
It is also appreciable that companies can activate to utilize their human resources fully by rebooting their dormant skills.