Some 44% of large Japanese companies surveyed by the Mainichi Shimbun have revamped or plan to revise their employee transfer systems.
Remote working has become much more common in Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic, and non-location-specific ways of working are gaining traction. This signals a major transformation of conventional employment conditions in Japan, as even large corporations are looking closely at systems allowing workers to live well outside of commuting distance from their office.
The survey was conducted from early June to early July this year, targeting 126 major Japanese companies in the steel, power, automotive, financial and other sectors, and 104 companies responded.
Companies used to require that all transferred workers be physically relocated. However, when asked what direction their transfer protocols had taken after January 2020, when the coronavirus was first confirmed in Japan, 12 companies, including Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT), JTB Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. replied that they had reorganized their systems. Additionally, 34 companies responded that they were “considering” doing so, bringing the total to 46, or about 44%.
For example, in July 2020, Fujitsu Ltd implemented a remote working system allowing employees to work from home without having to travel. Meanwhile, Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. allowed employees to choose to transfer by changing their job categories.
Of the 46 companies, 10 said they had reduced or were considering reducing the number of employees eligible for transfer, and another 10 cited a deferment system allowing employees to refuse transfers for a certain period of time.
JTB implemented remote working in almost all workplaces except for counter sales positions during Japan’s first coronavirus state of emergency in spring 2020. In October of the same year, the travel agency has announced that it will make remote work permanent. He noted that “remote work has spread rapidly under the coronavirus pandemic, and many employees have felt that it has not hindered their productivity and effectiveness at work.”
Additionally, many companies are offering the option to work even more remotely. For example, even if a job is based in the greater Tokyo area, employees may live in the Kansai region of western Japan hundreds of miles away. About twenty companies have already set up this system or are considering it. Some have introduced a system to limit workplaces.
Japanese-style employment practices such as lifetime employment and the strict seniority system are breaking down, and in some cases employees are no longer willing to accept transfers. Fifty-eight companies, or more than half, said they had received requests in the past five years from employees to live outside their commuting zone and work remotely. Thirty-five companies reported having employees who left their jobs due to transfers.
Madoka Nakano, a journalist specializing in the reform of corporate work patterns, suggested that the widespread adoption of remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a reassessment of traditional employee transfer systems.
Leave a Reply