Respondents: Businesspeople in Japan (Executives, life-time or contract employees of Japanese corporates.)
Sample size: N=1696
Survey period: 2020/05/01-08
Survey method: online survey
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AT A GLANCE
- Due to the COVID-19, almost 40% of businesspeople in Japan have experienced remote work at least 3 days a week (with over 20% who did so every day)
- Younger Japanese have high hopes for the freer, more diverse and creative culture that remote work brings, but there are also concerns for the dilution of the company’ s vision and culture.
- Views on productivity are mixed, but remote work itself is welcome.
- In the future, 3 out of 10 businesspeople want to work remotely at least 3 times a week.
Ⅰ. Due to COVID-19, almost 40% of businesspeople in Japan experienced remote work at least 3 days a week (including 20% who did so every day).
During the partial lockdown that accompanied countermeasures against the Novel Coronavirus, businespeople who experienced remote work (*1) “Practically Every Day” (22.1%) or “3 to 4 Days a Week” (15.3%) add up to almost 40% who experienced remote work over 3 days a week (37.4%).
Considering that in 2019 only 4.8% of the workforce had experienced remote work at least 3 days a week, remote suddenly emerging as mainstream is an abrupt switch in Japan.
Digging deeper into the data, we nd that the transition to remote working is uneven, with considerable variation across companies, industry, and region. This analysis focuses on data points for remote work “Practically Every Day” .
“ During the partial lockdown, 40% of the Japanese workforce
experienced remote work at least 3 days…versus 4.8% in 2019.
Considering that, this giant remote work experiment is
an abrupt switch. ”
The larger the company the more extensive the use of remote work.
During this period, looking at remote work adoption by company size shows that the larger the company the more extensive the use of remote work. With businesses under 50 employees at 14%, companies over 3000 employees were at 30.1%, or more than double.
Depending on the industry, significant differences arise.
While 42.8% of tech companies have worked remotely during this period, those involved in Health / Welfare or Transport / Logistics were much fewer, at 7.3% and 5.2% respectively.
The transition to remote work occurred mainly in Kanto and Kinki region.
Indeed, during this period, over 30% of people in Kanto worked remotely, while only 20% did so in the Kinki region, only about 10% in the Hokkaido/Tohoku and Chubu/Hokuriku regions, and less than 10% in the Chugoku/Shikoku and Kyushu/Okinawa regions.
With 40% of the workforce taking part in this remote-work experiment, it’s worth asking the question – how do people feel about it?
Ⅱ. Younger people have high hopes for the freer, more diverse and creative culture that remote work brings, but there are also concerns for the dilution of the company’s vision and culture.
Reduced commuting and better work-life balance acknowledged as key benefits, regardless of age.
The time and material advantages of remote work, like increased productivity from reduced commuting or more balance with childcare and nursing duties, gather the support of over half the businesspeople across generations.
If we look at generational dierences, Millennials overwhelmingly think that “without commuting time, work productivity increases” (64.9%). Also, the idea that “there is more balance with childcare and nursing duties” gets more present with age, with the highest tendency among the Bubble Generation (73.7%).
The denition of each generation (*2) are as follows: Generation Z is under 25 years old; 26 to 40 years old are Millennials, 41 to 49 are the second-wave baby boomers (Junior Boomers), people over 50 years old are the Bubble Generation.
“ Generation Z outstandingly believe that “remote
work makes workers more creative” (53.3%), but only under
half of the other generations agrees. ”
Younger employees see remote work as an opportunity to improve creativity and diversity in the workplace.
There are high hopes among younger people that remote work will bring new sources of value like a more free-spirited culture, more diverse talent, and creativity.
The idea that “In an organization, remote work promotes a free and open culture” tends to be widespread among Generation Z (64.5% agree) and Millennials (63.9%). However, less than half of the Bubble Generation agrees.
Then, over half of the businesspeople believe that “it attracts more diverse talent”, among them Millennials expect it the most (62%). Generation Z expect it highly (58.6%).
Outstandingly, Generation Z believe that “it makes workers more creative” (53.3%). Less than half of the other generations think so.
Seniors fear the deterioration of camaraderie, while younger workers fear that distance might hinder the development of a common vision.
More than half of respondents are concerned that remote work may reduce the sense of belonging and camaraderie, as well as the involvement in one shared vision.
Unsurprisingly, the worry that “in an organization, remote work reduces the unifying force and undermines camaraderie” is the highest among the older businesspeople: Junior Boomers (63.9%) and the Bubble Generation (64.3%).
“ Millennials are the most concerned that
remote work will “reduce the opportunities for
employees to grow” (46.5%). ”
Also, with 59.8% of Generation Z concerned that “it makes it dicult to share a company’s vision or its philosophy”, the feeling of crisis is equal or stronger than that of Junior Boomers (57.9%) or the Bubble Generation (56.6%).
These fears – older generations to lose the group consciousness and Generation Z to become unable to share a common vision – reect each generation’s values and upbringing.
For a generation where face-to-face interaction played such a vital role in the business culture, remote work inevitably takes away the critical experience of camaraderie. Meanwhile, for Gen Z that place a high priority on the company’s culture, having less visibility into its vision and values is a major concern.
Slower growth, loneliness and trust issues
Among other concerns brought by remote work, about 40% of businesspeople fear for employee growth, loneliness or mistrust.
Millennials are the most concerned that remote work will “reduce the opportunities for employees to grow” (46.5%).
Generation Z is the most concerned about the ‘increase in stress or depression due to loneliness” (46.7%).
Meanwhile, among the businesspeople who fear for “distrust between employees or between superiors and subordinates”, the Bubble Generation is a little less concerned (36.5%) than the other generations 40% average, and Generation Z is at 45.0%.
Ⅲ. Impact on productivity is unclear, but remote work itself is welcome.
Chart 9 shows the opinions gathered by asking “As remote work increases, how much do you think the productivity of your organization or company will improve?”.
Half of the businesspeople could not pronounce themselves about the impact of remote work on productivity, indicating uncertainty about the situation.
Also, with those who perceive a “signicant improvement” and “some improvement” adding up to 25.1% for the positive side and those who perceive a “signicant degradation” or “some degradation” adding up to 24.2% for the negative side, there is an even split between the two perceptions.
However, while 4.7% thought there was a “signicant improvement”, 11.6% – or more than double – saw a “signicant degradation”, indicating that some businesspeople have strong feelings about the negative impact on productivity.
“ 11.6% of respondents saw a “significant degradation” in productivity
by working remotely—versus 4.7% claiming a “significant
improvement”—indicating that a noteworthy part of the workforce
has strong feelings about the negative impact on productivity. ”
Looking by generation, younger generations tend to be more positive, and older ones are more negative. 34.9% of Generation Z see the positives, contrasting with only 18.4% among the Bubble Generation.Also, as the number of businesspeople who could not pronounce themselves increases with age, the productivity impact of remote work is hard to assess for the older generations.
Remote work acceptance
While remote work productivity is unclear at this stage, looking at acceptance indicates that many businesspeople do welcome remote work.
Among respondents to the question “How happy are you about the increase of remote work?”, those who were “Happy” or “Somewhat Happy” add up to 44.1% of welcoming people. With “Not Happy” or “Not Really Happy” adding up to only 16.5%, welcoming people are twice as numerous as unwelcoming ones.
For all generations, remote work is more welcomed than unwelcomed, and even more so among Millennials who for the most part welcome it (50.8%)
Ⅳ. In the future, 3 out of 10 businesspeople want to work mostly remotely
With many businesspeople suddenly working remotely during the COVID-19 infection control, what kind of impacts will this rst-hand experience have?
Trying is believing: experiencing remote work drastically improves its perception
We compared the assessment of remote work according to experience.
Hereafter, those who worked remotely at least 3 days a week during the COVID-19 infection control period are considered “with experience”, the others (from none up to two times a week) are considered “without experience”.
Chart 11 shows that those who experienced remote work tend to estimate a higher productivity impact that those who did not experience it. Moreover, they tend to welcome remote work more.
Regarding productivity impacts, the positive side is higher among those who experienced remote work (32.9%) than among those who did not (20.5%). Likewise, acceptance is signicantly stronger among those who experienced it (57.8%) than among those who did not (35.9%).
“ The first-hand experience of remote work during the
partial lockdown has considerably lowered the mental barriers of
Japanese people towards remote work. With 3 out of 10
businesspeople wanting to work mainly remotely in the future,
solving the presumption of difficulties and improving productivity
will be big themes for corporates. ”
Future remote work intentions
Due to the COVID-19 (from April tthrough May 2020), almost 40% of businesspeople experienced remote work over 3 days a week.
When asked about their future intentions for remote work, 10.3% want to work remotely “Practically Every Day”, 18.9% want to do so “3 to 4 days a week”, thus adding up to almost 3 out of 10 businesspeople (29.2%) who want to work mainly remotely.
With 30% of businesspeople wanting to work mainly remotely (over 3 days a week), and 25.8% wanting to do so at least occasionally (1 to 2 days a week), the majority of businesspeople want to work remotely at some frequency.
It is clear that rst-hand experience of remote work during the partial lockdown has considerably lowered the mental barriers of businesspeople towards remote work. Clearly, their expectations are more positive and they indicate a major movement exceeding the temporary circumstances.
With 3 out of 10 businesspeople wanting to work mainly remotely in the future, grappling with remote work, solving the presumption of diculties and improving productivity will be big themes for corporates.
While Generation Z has particularly high hopes for remote work to bring a freer, more diverse and creative culture, they also fear the diculty to “share a company’s vison or its philosophy” (more so than other generations).
Corporates now need to face these two sides of Generation Z’s hopes and fears.
*1 Remote work
In this survey, we asked about remote work as understood by “working outside the workplace, such as at home or in a café”
*2 Definition of each generation
MINDVOICE®* is an extensively studied and tested questionnaire completed annually by 4000 Japanese individuals since 2008, tracking the key psychographic attributes – such as beliefs, values, and attitudes – that drive consumer behavior.
– Sample demographics: 15-64 y.o ( 15-74 y.o, in 2018 ), men / women, Japan
（ household yearly income >3 million yens）
– Sample size: approx. 4000 respondents annually (4,87 3 in 2018)
– Method: online survey
* registered trade mark.
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