Digital transformation lies at the heart of Fujitsu’s WFH strategy

Fujitsu's Manabu Morikawa tells HRM Asia why the time is right for the company to embrace WFH as the company introduces its "Work Life Shift" policy.
By: | August 7, 2020

“As a DX (Digital Transformation) company, Fujitsu positions digital technology at the heart of our “Work Life Shift” policy.” – Manabu Morikawa, Senior Director, Employee Relations Division, Global Human Resources Unit, Fujitsu

Among the many disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working has arguably been one of the most challenging for organisations around the world.

As countries around the world introduced prohibitive lockdown measures in a bid to contain the pandemic, entire workforces have had to be moved from the familiar environs of the physical office to the home.

With lockdowns gradually being eased in some countries, companies have a decision to make – Do they accept remote working as the ‘new normal’ post-pandemic, or should they start to plan for an eventual return to the workplace?

For many countries in Asia, including Japan, the traditional workplace culture that has been cultivated with the physical office at its heart has proved to be an effective approach for many years. Deviating from this organisational setup, however, is Fujitsu, one of the largest IT service providers in the world.

Having already begun the shift to a permanent work-from-home (WFH) model with the introduction of the company’s ‘Work Life Shift’ programme last month, Fujitsu expects to halve its office space in Japan within the next three years, as its local 80,000-strong workforce works primarily from home.

HRM Asia spoke with Manabu Morikawa, Senior Director, Employee Relations Division, Global Human Resources Unit, Fujitsu, as he shares some insights into the company’s transformation in a new world of work.

Can you elaborate on Fujitsu’s ‘Work Life Shift’ programme, and are there any plans to expand the WFH strategy to Fujitsu offices around the world?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, our lifestyles and values have changed significantly, and a world based on this “new normal” and new values have started to emerge. We recognise here at Fujitsu that society will not return to the previous way of doing things even after the pandemic has been brought under control.

In totally shifting our notions around the concepts of “work” and “life” to help achieve better well-being for our employees, Fujitsu has decided to expand telework as a way of helping people work without being bound to a fixed place and time in anticipation of this new era.

Throughout the world there are many places in which remote working initiatives are more advanced than in Japan, or in which the spread of COVID-19 or other variables exist, and we will ensure that we continue to proceed with initiatives in other regions in a way that respects these differences.

What is Fujitsu’s strategy when it comes to adapting and structuring in this new world of work, and what are some of the challenges you have faced so far?

Communication between team leaders, their subordinates, and colleagues remains a widely acknowledged challenge for remote workers. Although we have adapted quickly to conducting many of our meetings and business online, it is often easier to communicate with customers and team members face-to-face. We believe that companies all over the world are confronting the same challenges in considering how to solve this problem going forward.

 READ: Fujitsu offers 3 core principles for remote working

As part of the ‘Work Life Shift’ programme, digitisation is a key component for Fujitsu. What are the specific areas that the company is focusing on during your digital transformation, and how are you working to create a digitally inclusive culture across the organisation?

As a DX (Digital Transformation) company, Fujitsu positions digital technology at the heart of our “Work Life Shift” policy. For example, as one of our key initiatives, we are considering an activity that visualises how people work using digital tools.

Specifically, we will introduce “Zinrai for 365 Dashboard”, an AI-powered workstyle transformation service as the infrastructure platform supporting new ways of working, classifying and visualising work content and workload, which leverages technologies from Fujitsu’s “Zinrai” portfolio of AI services and solutions.

The results of this visualisation will be analysed and utilised to improve productivity through smooth communication among supervisors, subordinates and colleagues.

By visualising the contents of work using AI, it will become possible to grasp the current situation quantitatively and objectively, and to solve problems that emerge over the course of implementing remote working schemes throughout the group.

What role do you see HR playing today and beyond COVID-19, particularly in areas such as employee recruitment, retention, engagement, and upskilling?

We believe that HR professionals and organisations will play a vital role in overcoming the challenges that have accompanied COVID-19 and creating a virtual workplace in which all employees can feel healthy and energetic, while providing opportunities for employees to realise their own growth and maximise their personal potential.

From the perspective of well-being and occupational health and safety, Fujitsu will also continue striving to create an environment for employees to work with a sense of emotional security.

We are now planning to conduct health checkups and diagnosing stress in Japan. This is to create an environment for employees to work with a sense of emotional security, which we will later align across countries in accordance with local laws.