Tokyo government promotes WFH with subsidies to companies

Financial incentives are offered to businesses that implement work from home (WFH) schemes to lower the number of people who commute to work.
By: | May 11, 2021

Companies can get subsidies of up to 800,000 yen (US$7,366) if at least 70% of their staff work from home three days a week for three months. 

In a bid to control the spread of COVID-19, the metropolitan government is also providing subsidies to cover the cost of necessary equipment for telecommuting. 

Officials from the Tokyo metropolitan government say nearly 60% of companies with more than 30 employees had introduced remote working as of April, but nearly half are implementing the practice for one or two days per week. They added that the telecommuting rate is lower in firms with smaller numbers of employees. 

The scheme starts this Wednesday and will last till September 30, according to NHK. 

Despite prime minister Yoshihide Suga’s call for more staff to telecommute in late April, the ratio of employees working remotely has been stagnant even as a fourth coronavirus wave hit the country. 

Since May last year, the Japan Productivity Center has been tracking the telework rate among Japan’s workforce when it was 31.5%. The figure dropped to 20.2% by July, and has been hovering around 20% ever since.

Even in January this year, just before the second state of emergency was declared, the telework rate remained unchanged at 22%. In April, it was 19.2%, according to The Mainichi. 

READ: Japan incentivizes migration out of Tokyo without staff changing jobs

Some reasons for the stagnant telework rate include “difficulty in communication between employees” and “a feeling of unfairness among employees who cannot work remotely”, according to the results of a private think tank fact-finding survey presented at a labour ministry review meeting.