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Over 80% of major firms in Japan have or plan to start telework systems: survey

Over 80 percent of 121 major companies in Japan have introduced telecommuting systems or plan to do so, a recent survey by the Mainichi Shimbun shows.

In the survey, conducted in December 2017, 45 percent of companies also said they had installed or planned to install nursery facilities at their offices. The figures indicate that major companies are making an effort to create environments that make it easier for employees who are raising children or providing nursing care to work.

Telecommuting, also known as telework, allows employees to utilize information technology and work without fixed times or locations. It has gained attention as a way to boost productivity and improve employees' work-life balance. By working at home or at rented offices, people can cut down on commuting and other traveling time, while those who are ill or have disabilities making it difficult for them to come to the office are able to work.

Altogether, 72 companies, or 60 percent of those surveyed, replied that they had some kind of telework system in place, while 25 companies (21 percent) said they planned to introduce such a system. Of the 59 companies that provided the introduction date of their telework systems, 25 said the date was between fiscal 2016 and 2017.

In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in 2016, just 17 percent of companies said they had introduced or planned to introduce telework systems. This survey also included medium-sized companies, so the results can't be compared directly with the Mainichi Shimbun survey, but it is evident that such systems have spread among major firms in Japan.

Big companies are also making efforts to create environments in which employees can work with peace of mind after having children. A total of 46 of the major firms, or 38 percent, said they had in-house nurseries, while eight companies (7 percent) said they planned to install them. There are also an increasing number of cases in which day care facilities are built next to manufacturers' factories or retail stores. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. built three nurseries in fiscal 2016 and 2017 that are able to provide 24-hour care, to assist factory employees working shifts. Last autumn, Seven & i Holdings Co. opened a day care center adjacent to a convenience store, while major department store operator Takashimaya Co. also began trial operation of a nursery next to a department store.

A total of 67 companies (55 percent) said they had no day care facilities at their offices. However, one company commented, "We will aim to lower the rate of people leaving work to raise children or provide nursing care to zero percent, and we will proceed to design systems incorporating not just concrete things but also more intangible issues such as the expansion of reduced schedules and the like."

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