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Telecommuting catching on at major Japanese companies: Mainichi survey

Some 48 percent of 121 major Japanese corporations, or 58 firms, have introduced or plan to introduce work-from-home systems, according to a Mainichi Shimbun survey.

    Another 30 companies said they were considering introducing such a system, raising the total ratio with a telecommuting option in place or on the horizon to more than 70 percent.

    Some of the firms told the Mainichi that they introduced telecommuting to respond to the concerns of employees raising children or providing homecare, or to reduce turnover. The trend is in line with government moves to promote working from home to improve Japanese employees' work-life balance. A Cabinet decision passed in June last year called for tripling the ratio of companies with telecommuting systems from fiscal 2012's 11.5 percent by 2020. According to the Mainichi survey results, the ratio among major firms has already surpassed the government goal.

    A Sumitomo Chemical Co. representative told the Mainichi that telecommuting "connects to expanding employees' on-the-job opportunities, as those who were on shorter hours for childcare or homecare reasons can now work full time from home."

    Many companies that stated they were considering introducing work-from-home schemes said that both management and employees expected a number of benefits, including improved efficiency by cutting total working hours, and reduced office and transportation costs.

    However, most of the companies surveyed also pointed out that telecommuting made managing worker hours difficult, with some firms considering requiring telecommuting employees to send email notifications to their bosses when starting and finishing work.

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