RIETI Report February 2021

A New Working Style in a Post-COVID-19 Era—Will Working from Home Spread in Japan?

Working from home has had a mixed response from the people that have been forced to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some welcome working in the comfort of their own home. Others are eager to return to their office environments. Corporations are interested in changes to productivity that might have been affected by the spatial and social dynamics inherent in the arrangement.

In this column, RIEIT faculty fellows Sachiko Kuroda and Hideo Owan explore the realities of working from home and what that means for the future of work after the pandemic has been brought under control using surveys conducted in Japan.

This month's featured article

A New Working Style in a Post-COVID-19 Era—Will Working from Home Spread in Japan?

KURODA SachikoFaculty Fellow, RIETI

OWAN HideoFaculty Fellow, RIETI

In 2020, the global labor market was forced to undergo dramatic changes. The greatest change is probably the shift to teleworking (working from home, hereafter WFH). In Japan as well, this new working style rapidly spread after the declaration of a state of emergency in April amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Some types of job may not be suited to WFH. From recent experiences, however, even those who engage in jobs that have been considered to be unfit for remote work, found it easier than expected to work from home. According to some questionnaire surveys conducted in Japan (e.g., a survey by the Cabinet Office [2020] and a survey by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) [2020]), many people wish to continue working from home. In Japan, this was likely the first time for many people to experience WFH, but most of them got a first-hand feel of its merits.

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