Firms in Japan reduce remote work despite employee demand

Remote work remains popular amongst employees in Japan, but organisations are demanding employees return to work onsite.
By: | August 22, 2023

Organisations in Japan are facing a decline in the adoption of teleworking, despite a notable desire for remote work among employees. This shift in work dynamics comes after the government’s decision to downgrade COVID-19’s risk categorisation in May.

According to a survey conducted by the private think tank Persol Research and Consulting, the percentage of employees utilising remote work systems has decreased to 22.2%, marking its lowest point since the pandemic’s onset. This is despite the 81.9% of employees who wish to continue working remotely.

Japan’s accelerated shift to remote work during the pandemic was largely due to the government-led drive to reduce the flow of people and slow the spread of infections. Yet, organisations in the country have been reluctant to offer remote work compared to other organisations overseas.

Experts have pointed to various reasons for the limited take up of remote work amongst organisations in Japan, which include a persistent concern about a lack of face-to-face communication, the rigid and hierarchical work culture, and slower digital transition in society.

READ MORE: Employees in Japan against returning to the office full time

The trend of having employees move away from working remotely is more apparent among organisations that saw remote work as a temporary measure to prevent COVID-19 at the workplace rather than work-style reform, said Yuji Kobayashi, a researcher at Persol Research and Consulting. “Considering employees’ demand for telework, what is needed now is offering a flexible work style, not returning completely to in-office work,” he said, reported Japan Today.