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Over half of telecommuters in Japan work longer at home than in office: survey

An office in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward remains quiet due to workers working from home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, on Feb. 20, 2020. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- More than half of people who have teleworked say that they work longer hours working from home than in the office, according to a survey carried out by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, commonly known as Rengo.

Teleworking has become more common as a measure to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, but 51.5% of respondents said that they worked longer hours than at the office, and 65.1% of those who put in overtime and worked on holidays said that they did not report such work to their employers.

The survey, conducted online from June 5 to 9, analyzed responses from 1,000 male and female company employees, public servants and part-time workers who had experience teleworking from April onwards.

While 58.4% of men said that their work hours became longer when working from home, 44.6% of women said the same. Among the respondents, 38.1% said they worked overtime or on holidays, for which they must legally be paid extra. The top reasons for why they did not report such work to their employers were: "It's awkward to do so," and "(My employer) doesn't keep track of time." Those who worked overtime but were not recognized for it by their employers stood at 56.4%.

Employees' work hours are tracked primarily by punching in on a time clock or looking at records of computer use. Of those surveyed, 11.5% said that their work hours were not being tracked. The smaller the company, the higher this tendency, with 23.5% of companies with 99 or fewer employees not keeping track of work hours.

The greatest advantage of working from home, cited by 74.6% of respondents said, was the ability to "spend time efficiently, since there's no commute." The greatest disadvantage, agreed upon by 44.9% respondents, was "the difficulty of separating work from personal time." Among those who have children at home, 70.2% characterized teleworking as "difficult," while 86.2% of people with children too young to attend school said they felt teleworking was difficult.

(Japanese original by Hidenori Yazawa, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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