Experiences Working From Home in Response to Stay-at-Home Request

September 14, 2020 [No.79-2020]

AOTS-HRM & IR News Editorial Staff


Experiences Working From Home in Response to Stay-at-Home Request
Part 1: Good points of working from home

In response to stay-at-home requests intended to stop the spread of COVID-19, AOTS began having employees work from home at the end of March, even though it does not have a formal tele-working system. Our first experience of working from home for about three months resulted not only in a true feeling for both its good points and inconveniences but also a number of unforeseen experiences and unexpected feelings. We summarized them here, hoping they will be useful as a reference for work-style reform in the future. However, it should be noted that the tele-working described here and introduced by AOTS was adopted urgently in response to the Japanese government's declaration of the state of emergency. It involves a number of unique elements such as the fact that it began suddenly with almost no preparatory period, it was uncertain how long it would continue and it was conducted under conditions where in principle all family members were home as people refrained from leaving home except for necessary and urgent reasons. Thus, it differs from tele-working adopted as a part of flexible ways of working. Whatever the case, it can be said that many companies and organizations in Japan are likely to introduce a full-fledged system of tele-working in the future, spurred by stay-at-home requests.

First, one benefit of working from home is the way it frees up time that would be spent commuting. Commuting on crowded public transportation is a painful experience which places significant psychological and physical burdens on Japanese workers, particularly on those commuting long distances from suburbs to major cities. Working from home not only eliminates the need to ride on painfully cramped public transportation but also makes it possible to use the commuting time for other uses. In Japan where waiting lists for childcare and long-term care for the elderly are pressing issues, not a few people quit their jobs because they are unable to place their children in care or need to provide long-term care for elderly family members. The option of working from home – it may not be an immediate solution – could help such people continue working with support by family members and home helpers. Even for workers who do not have such pressing issues, the elimination of the commuting time could lead to a healthy work-life balance – enjoying meals and conversation with family, exercising before sleeping, relieving stress and increasing job motivation. Some people who have experienced working from home tell of how their daily lives have been enriched; it has freed them from feelings of nausea they had experienced on the commute every morning and helped them relax both physically and mentally. In today's Japan, news reports on people who say that they would like or plan to leave their current employers for ones that offer tele-working system.

Improvement of work efficiency can be also described as a benefit of tele-working. This is not true in all cases since conditions where work can be conducted efficiently vary by type of work. For example, in the case of office workers, they can concentrate on work at home as long as internet access and a comfortable working space are available. Some office workers even say that the freedom from background noise and interactions such as telephone calls makes it possible to concentrate more thoroughly and work at their own pace. Sales staff who often work outside of the office may also be able to work more efficiently if they are freed from the need to be tied to their existing offices through using satellite offices, although they were requested to stay at home under the state of emergency in response to COVID-19.

The greatest benefits of tele-working are reduced time constraints and improvement of work efficiency which will enhance work-life balance. While it is easy to enjoy the benefits of the freedom from the commuting time, it may not be so easy to improve work efficiency without careful preparations since it varies with individuals' working environments and job duties. In the next issue we will look at disadvantages experienced in working from home. Resolving those disadvantages could lead to careful preparations for improving work efficiency.

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