It has been almost 3 months since the declaration of the state of emergency for seven prefectures in Japan. Then the COVID-19 finally seems to have cooled down. Tokyo, Saitama, Kanawaga, Chiba, and Hokkaido were released from the emergency after Minister Shinzo Abe announced on May 25th. Japan is taking the first step into the Post-COVID period, with various differences compared to before. So what is new in Post-COVID Japan?
Teleworking – Work from home
Japanese employers are well-known for spending long hours in the office, plus 残業 (Zangyō – working overtime) despite still even going to drink with clients, colleagues, and bosses late at night after that. This working lifestyle has been considered as a sign of success for a long time, creating an invincible Japan leading the world in economy, technology. However, this workaholic has been changing gradually because of the CoronaVirus. This workaholic culture is beginning to change because of the virus. Nihon Keizai Shimbun decided to take a survey in researching on nearly 140 leading firms in Japan, more than 50% of companies said that they have switched to teleworking partially or in principle. People are starting to realize that they can actually do remote work. The new method is considered to be even more flexible than before. Panasonic and Unicharm, these two big companies also introduced remote working and hit the headlines every day.
Positive responses of employers.
An expert in HR consultant Emily Draycott-Jones has stated that “COVID has made employers move away from traditional thinking that productivity is contingent upon set hours within an office environment.” Most of the interviewed Japanese said that the coronavirus crisis has provided them an opportunity to spend more time with their relationships, especially family members. According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the average time spent each day (weekday) on housework is 263 minutes for the wife compared to only 37 minutes for the husband. In Japan, women are typically considered to have responsibilities for “both work and home”. Ms. Eriko Miyamoto, a freelance editor/writer, also agrees with us, “Japanese men spend very little time doing household chores.”
Tele-educating – a shift towards more online classes/Studying from home
Another new lifestyle that may stay is Tele-educating. Under the CoronaVirus crisis, Japanese universities have started to give online classes (via Zoom, Skype,..) while keeping their campuses closed. Although Japan has lifted the state of emergency among seven prefectures, the need to maintain social distance is still going on. Similar to the Teleworking topic, there has been a lot of debate in Japanese universities in the past to extend online classes, but little progress has been made except to provide the public with some open courses. However, COVID-19 has accelerated the cycle once again.
Both colleges and students benefit from online classes. Universities could attract lecturers from more geographically diverse places by removing the need to physically commute to the campus to give lectures. Global lecturer recruitment would elevate the quality of the education provided. Students may also benefit from having the opportunity to attend lectures from home. It allows students to study at overseas universities without actually moving to residency. Moreover, experience shows that Japanese students seem to find it much easier to ask questions when they can use chat-function during online classes during lectures: otherwise they can remain silent, trying not to disturb the lectures that are going on. These benefits could make holding online classes after COVID-19 ideal for universities and schools.
The rise of supported digital platforms
Teleworking – working remotely is considered as the future working style, more efficient, greener, easier by Japan lately after the COVID-19. This consideration has promoted significantly the rise of supported digital platforms not only in Japan but all over the world. There are many digital tools available to use now. Online meetings with Zoom, Skype, Hangout, Meet, Teams, etc. Working tools and project management with Asana, Trello, Slack. Chat tools to discuss 1: 1 with Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram, WeChat, Zalo, messenger, LINE, etc. In general, whatever you are doing offline could be moved to online at the moment.
The concern of the Japanese over viral infections through the handling of cash has been promoting cashless payment. We are talking about the rise of Mobile Payments, Credit Cards, and Prepaid Transportation Cards in the number of transactions. In Japan, companies achieving remarkable developments can be listed such as PayPay, LINE Pay, Rakuten Pay, J Trust Global. After the calm of the Virus lately, now we can see tons of shopping shops start to hang the sign with the words: “PayPay used here”. Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten Inc, also gives his comment with Japantimes:” Smartphone-based payments are becoming popular among people who do not want to touch cash because of the pandemic.” Indeed, no one wants to grab a dirty bill.
You can check out our lastest article about Cashless situation in Japan here