In­tro­duc­ing ‘telework’ to pre­pare for the 2020 Olympics

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

JA­PAN yes­ter­day launched a scheme to pro­mote “telework”, or work­ing from home, in an ef­fort to ease con­ges­tion when Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics, as well as soften a no­to­ri­ously rigid work cul­ture.

Al­most 930 com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Sun­tory Bev­er­age & Food, Aji­nomoto and Tokyu Con­struc­tion are par­tic­i­pat­ing in “Telework Day,” to be held on July 24 each year from now un­til the Olympics open­ing cer­e­mony set for July 24, 2020.

Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s govern­ment has in­tro­duced poli­cies to shorten work­ing hours, raise con­tract work­ers’ pay, and curb abuse of labour laws. Telework could be another way to re­form work­ing prac­tices that some say are be­hind the times.

“Once the Olympics start it will be hard to get to work, so we are do­ing this as an ex­per­i­ment,” said Takashi Kozu, 61, pres­i­dent of the Ri­coh In­sti­tute of Sus­tain­abil­ity and Busi­ness.

“The life­styles of younger gen­er­a­tions are chang­ing, so firms should of­fer al­ter­na­tive work styles to main­tain em­ploy­ees’ in­cen­tive.”

Kozu said he worked from home on Mon­day morn­ing, planned to at­tend an off-site meet­ing in the af­ter­noon and would not show up in the of­fice un­til early evening.

Telework is more com­mon in other coun­tries, es­pe­cially in the in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sec­tor, where em­ploy­ees reg­u­larly use tele­con­fer­enc­ing or log on from the neigh­bour­hood cafe.

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