What do you do in Japan currently? Are you working here or planning to work here? You might be interested in doing it since you got impressed by the scenery of Japanese office on the internet, TV, magazines, etc.; you might even already decide which company to apply out of your passion for its products. As Japanese products are known for its high quality and the country is famous for people’s politeness and diligence, you might think Japan’s work environment is very strict and Japanese employees are always suffering under ultra-high pressure, but that’s not always the case. Even you should be a good Japanese speaker if you plan to work in Japan, but it is not necessarily required at some companies, especially foreign-affiliated ones or those that use English as their working language. However, there are several more important things to bear in mind and today we are going to talk about 4 tips for you.
Attire: Create a good impression
Attire would be the most important thing when working at a Japanese company. Numerous companies have their own uniform (unlike schools, employees wear the uniform only while they are on duty). Therefore, you might see many salesmen are wearing suit all year around even other co-workers (other departments) are working with in plain clothes. Perhaps you feel strange and worry about their condition especially in summer, because they seem to be uncomfortable with necktie and long-sleeved shirt/jacket, but the attire is to be favorable in impression, especially to their client and it is thought to be kind of manner. However, this attire has been changing since the government started campaign named “Cool Biz”; working as lightly-equipped as possible — short-sleeved shirt, no ties, etc. Even your company doesn’t have uniform and plain clothes are accepted, you should choose the outfits carefully, while some companies stay strict with business-casual outfits, others may accept jeans, beach sandals (zoris), heavy makeup, or even flashy dyed hair, just check it with your co-workers.
Punctuality: Time Is Money
The proverb “Time is money” is also well known here in Japan, it is very famous that Japanese people are punctual and they believe it as common norm. Since they like everything goes on as scheduled, their punctuality might come from it. A late arrival is what we shouldn’t do as an adult, however, there are some people who can’t manage their time. Fortunately, we can call or e-mail by cell phone, and there are some other opportunities to reach your school, office, client, etc. if you think you will be late for your appointment while you are moving. Being late is undesirable, but a notification about it is always better than letting people wait for you without knowing what is happening and worry about you. You might think Japanese people are too strict with time and they should be big-hearted, but as you are staying in Japan, you had better adapt to this culture. The proverb “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is also well known here.
Caring for Co-workers
When you talk about the Japanese national character, it would come uppermost their politeness, punctuality, and caring for others that is also known for “omotenashi” (hospitality). Though it depends on office, employees are expected to take care of others’ feeling and do the things that co-workers expect you to do before they ask you. For example, the writer used to be said that I shouldn’t have done only my task, but I also should have made coffee for my bosses and co-workers if they seem to be tired, or I should ask them and give stationery if they are looking for it. However, this thinking is getting conservative because the tasks we have to do are increasing, there are some co-workers who want to do everything by themselves, and it might make them annoyed; or you might spoil them and have to do everything for them even it is super easy. If you want to know they need your help or not, you should ask other co-workers who you can trust.
Conform to norms: Be a Proper Employee
Despite the 2 elements attire and punctuality mentioned above, you may also have to follow the office regulations, which you will learn about it from your boss or personnel management officer when go to the office on the first day for work. Do you wonder why do companies need regulations even most of them has already come to manhood? The regulations are basically enacted to make employees behave properly as member of the office, however, they also include rules about compliance. Though these are much less than school regulations, some rules could be unwritten (it means they should be understood and kept in mind without guidance). For example, you should prefer call to e-mail if you need to be absent from work on urgent business or sick (even some offices accept absence notification by e-mail or SMS). These regulations vary by office, and you don’t have to be afraid of it more than necessary. In the first place, they are established not only to do the right thing as employees, but also to work in a lively manner. Some Japanese co-workers might be shy, but they probably are eager to get along well with you. Be cheerful, and help each other.