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Even in Japan, working from home may be here to stay

Even in Japan, working from home may be here to stay

about 2 months ago by Simon Jelfs
Even In Japan, Working From Home May Be Here To Stay

​The COVID-19 crisis may end up accomplishing in a few months what years of Abenomics couldn’t: a drastic rehaul of Japan’s working culture. While some of Japan Inc may not yet be won over to the merits of working from home, it’s clear from speaking to our clients and candidates over the last few months that the nature of work here will change.

We estimate that some 70% of employers will be offering some form of work from home post COVID-19. For foreign companies and their employees in Japan, what’s in store in the new normal?

Learn to lead, remotely

Any managers – or anyone with aspirations to become one – needs to get accustomed with being able to lead remotely. This means becoming adept at hiring, training and, critically, retaining staff remotely. Sometimes this is about managing logistics, other times, though, it’s trickier stuff like learning to project empathy and interest when you’re not in the same room.

We know plenty of leaders in finance who’ve done it successfully for years – many finance managers have experience with leading shared services finance functions in offshore locations. People in these positions are perhaps already in your organisation and are well placed to coach, mentor and share their best practices with other leaders.

That talent pool? It just got bigger

A constant complaint from hiring managers in Tokyo is the lack of bilingual talent. It’s true: Japan is a big market, but the right talent remains tough to find. Work from home could mean a change, though, offering up the possibility now of hiring bilingual accounting and finance, supply chain and HR talent based in Kansai or the industrial heartland of Chubu. Neither are backwaters. Both are home to world-class companies in manufacturing, engineering and technology, top universities and boast plenty of talented English speakers.

Flexible hours could lure bilingual parents back to work

Work from home could mean a big opportunity for many parents, especially mums, who left permanent jobs to raise children. A work from home option with flexible hours could mean that bilingual candidates are ready to return to the workforce. Traditionally, Japan Inc has missed opportunities to hire talented people back as part-timers or in flexible work situations. Foreign companies could be well placed to take advantage of this unique opportunity.