Reduced Face-to-face Contacts in Japanese Firms During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings from a Survey on the Relationship with Pre-pandemic Firm Attributes

Author Name TOMIURA Eiichi (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / ITO Banri (Research Associate, RIETI) / KUMANOMIDO Hiroshi (Hitotsubashi University)
Creation Date/NO. July 2021 21-J-031
Research Project Empirical analysis of firms amidst globalization, digitization and the COVID-19 pandemic
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First draft: July 2021
Revised: February 2022


Among various effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, reductions in face-to-face contact are likely to have deep impacts on a wide range of issues, including personal work styles, inter-firm transactions, and locations of firms. We conducted a survey of all medium or large-sized firms in manufacturing and wholesale industries in Japan to collect information on their reduction of face-to-face contact by such means as holding online meetings and instituting teleworking. We questioned them on their adoptions at the following four points in time: December 2019, before the pandemic; April/May 2020, under the first state of emergency; September/October, after the introduction of subsidies for travelling; and January 2021, under the second state of emergency in some regions. The survey results show that substantially more firms began using online meetings and teleworking, but significant variation continued across firms even under the second state of emergency. Firms that had been digitized or globalized before the pandemic tended to be especially active in introducing measures for reducing face-to-face contacts.

Published: Tomiura, Eiichi, Banri Ito, and Hiroshi Kumanomido, 2022. "Reduced face-to-face contacts in Japanese firms during the COVID-19 pandemic -The impacts of digitization and globalization-," The Economic Review, Volume 73, No. 2 (2022), 117-132.