Japan Rethinks Employee Transfers Because of Remote Work

Japan remote work
Photo by Kishor on Unsplash

About 44% of the big Japanese corporations surveyed by the Mainichi Shimbun have updated their staff transfer policies or are contemplating doing so.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, remote working has significantly increased in popularity in Japan, and methods of working that are not location-dependent are becoming more popular. This indicates a significant shift in the traditional working conditions in Japan as even the largest companies examine policies enabling employees to reside a long way from their place of employment.

This year’s study, which was conducted from early June to early July and targeted 126 significant Japanese businesses in the steel, electrical, automotive, finance, and other sectors, received responses from 104 businesses.

The businesses once mandated physical relocation for all transferred employees. However, 12 businesses, including NTT, JTB, and Mitsubishi Electric Corp., said they had updated their transfer protocols when questioned about the path their protocols had taken after January 2020, when the coronavirus was first identified in Japan. In addition, 34 businesses said they were “considering” doing so, bringing the overall response rate up to 46, or around 44%.

Of the 46 firms, 10 said that they had cut back on the number of workers exposed to transfers or were contemplating doing so, while another 10 mentioned a deferral system that gives workers a limited amount of time to reject moves.

Many businesses also provide their employees the choice to work even more remotely. For instance, even though a job is located in the greater Tokyo area, employees may reside hundreds of kilometres away in the Kansai region in west Japan. This system has either been implemented or is being considered by twenty firms. A mechanism was implemented by some to restrict work places.

The tight seniority system and lifelong employment, two Japanese-style work norms, are failing, and in certain circumstances, employees are refusing to accept transfers. 58 businesses, or more than half, reported that they have had requests from employees to work remotely and commute from somewhere else over the last five years. 35 businesses reported having workers who departed their positions due to transfers.

According to Madoka Nakano, a journalist with experience in corporate workstyle reform, the coronavirus pandemic’s extensive use of remote work has led to a reevaluation of conventional employee transfer procedures.

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