The Yomiuri Shimbun The “Jisa Biz” campaign kicked off Tuesday in the Tokyo area, in an effort to promote work style reform and ease commuter congestion.
Initiated by the Tokyo metropolitan government, the campaign promotes work styles such as teleworking and flextime in cooperation with private companies and railway operators.
“What’s the schedule for my business trip?”
“I’m trying to make it July 13 or 14.”
The conversation could be heard from a room on the 25th floor of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp.’s headquarters in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
An employee replied to an inquiry from her boss, Kokoro Kobayashi, 45, section chief of the IT Innovation Department, who is in charge of in-house system development. However, Kobayashi was actually sitting in front of a computer at home, about 15 kilometers away from the company.
On the first day of the campaign, Kobayashi tried for the first time to work from home via a system connected to a robot on a desk at company headquarters after dropping off his 5-year-old daughter at day care.
The company encourages its employees to work at home as part of its work style reform, which will also contribute to Jisa Biz.
It plans to introduce two robots at each of its 29 branches by the end of March next year to connect those working at home to office-based colleagues. The robot is installed with a speaker, microphone and camera.
“We want to expand this work style using the robot with the introduction of the ‘Jisa Biz’ campaign,” a company employee in charge of its work style reform said.
Under the catchphrase “When morning changes, every day will change,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike took the initiative in the Jisa Biz movement in a bid to promote work style reform.
Currently 260 companies and municipalities have agreed to the concept and actively introduced flextime and teleworking, among other working options, to be used by their employees during the campaign period.
Railway companies are operating extra train services during early morning hours in an effort to bolster momentum for the movement.
To promote early-morning commutes to work, major household products maker Unilever Japan gave free bottles of tea to commuters from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Tuesday at Shinjuku-Nishiguchi Station on the Toei Oedo Line.
On Tuesday, Koike visited a satellite office used by teleworking employees, among other places.
“Companies and the metropolitan government are cooperating to change work styles, boost productivity and eventually free commuters from crowded trains, even if only a little,” Koike told reporters after the visit to the office.