What Works and What Doesn’t with Remote Work in Japan

Coffee for Closers: Episode 14 from MOTIONWORKS on Vimeo.

I’m Brad, Managing Director of Motionworks and host the Coffee for Closers series. This week I wanted to follow up on a couple of cases related to remote working from the last vlog that we did from last week. And this week, actually, there are two cases: two people that I reached out to and spoke to. One of the people I reached out to is a gentleman that is working for a global IT company. They have a couple hundred people here in Japan that are set up. Obviously because of the situation they have been working remotely for about a month now. And those things are running smoothly because it’s an IT company.

However, the second person that I reached out to is working for a very domestic company in Chiba as a quality assurance engineer. Recently, he was asked because he actually lives in Tokyo and the company is based in Chiba. And because of the recent spike in Covid 19 cases in Tokyo he and a group of other people at the company were asked not to come to work this week. That was a bit of a surprise to him. More of a surprise was the fact that they are not equipped to actually do remote working from their office. So, he has no communication with his company except via phone regarding the projects. Basically, this week he really can’t work at all on anything related to the work. Because he’s in quality assurance and it’s a new product development team, he’s very limited on what he can do remotely.

I’m definitely interested in following up with him and his situation. We did talk briefly about “What are you going to do from this week?” And he mentioned “Well you know the only thing I can do…”, because he is quite a good worker, he puts in 10 plus hours a day, and he wants to work on things but realistically he’s very limited. He told me that, if anything he just wants to think of ideas outside the box.  He’s at home. He’s not in the working environment. So maybe that’s good for him to think of alternative solutions or alternative ideas. However, if he needs 5 days to actually do that, that’s probably too much time. He is a bit concerned in terms of what he’s going to be able to do and how to use his time productively. But he’s thinking and he’s trying to do it, but he is very limited and it’s not his fault. It’s the company’s fault for not having a policy in place.

 Going back to the first case where this is a global IT company and they, even before this situation, they were allowed to work remotely 1 to 2 days a month. So they already had that in place. They could do web conferences or they could work from home. They already had that set up. Almost everything is accessible remotely, so that was not a problem I think they’re still limited because now everyone in the company is working remotely. Some people cycle back into the office every once and awhile, but they have a system in place. Really, they just needed to tweak their existing system to make it work. I was very fascinated with the two extreme systems; one company that already had this in place in a very small capacity and they just tweaked it to adjust to the environment. I think those companies just get it. No problem, we can do it.

Whereas the other company is in no man’s land. They’re in uncharted territories right now. In a way, this is good for them, because now they can set those policies and they can deal with that to accommodate. Who knows? What might happen is: half of their workforce might have to work remotely. And they have to really think about how to deal with that because that will significantly affect their operations. I’m very interested in following up with both companies, but more importantly the second one that’s ill-equipped for this environment. Again, thanks for watching. I’m Brad. Stay tuned for more great content from Motionworks and Coffee for Closers. Stay safe and productive. See you soon.

Brad Corbet