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Survey | 2021 State of Remote Work in Global Companies in Japan

Posted by en world Japan

over 1 year ago

en world Japan K.K. (headquarters: Chuo City, Tokyo, President: Vijay Deol), one of Japan’s largest recruiting firms specializing in global talent, conducted a questionnaire survey on the status of the remote work implementation, and 230 global companies responded.

Summary of Survey results

  1. Over 80% of Foreign-Affiliated Companies have an office attendance rate of less than 50%.

  2. “Digitalizing internal operations and workflows” is the major change since remote working was introduced. 

  3. “Feeling out of touch and disconnected from people” is the most critical challenge under remote working conditions. 

  4. 80% of companies have decided to implement remote working for the long term. 

  5. "Increasing 1 on 1 communication between managers and their staffs” is the most effective action to increase employees' engagement and sense of belonging. 


Vijay Deol, President & Representative Director

As we are preparing to enter the third yearly of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen some easing of restrictions on social interaction, but the future is still uncertain with the recent Omicron strain and further potential for mutations. As a result, companies need to continue to consider what is best for the health and welfare of their employees. This can be achieved in large part through sustained remote working policies and their supporting environments.
As we can see from the findings in our survey, the vast majority of global companies have implemented remote working. A large percentage of those companies intend to maintain it in some form going forward. While there have been benefits there are also challenges which companies will need to continue to navigate to thrive under this new way of working for the foreseeable future.

Data Analysis and Commentary

1. Office Attendance Rate

In the survey result, 60% of the companies answered that remote work has been introduced since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. Approximately 30% responded that they had implemented remote work before the outbreak of the COVID-19, and only 6% answered that they had not introduced remote work. The same trend was observed in both foreign-affiliated and Japanese companies.

[Fig.1]Did your company implement remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic? (since Feb. 2020)

Speaking of the current office attendance rate, only 3% of the companies indicated that all employees were completely working remotely, “Office attendance rate is between 10% and 30% (27%)” is the most common response. Of the 230 companies that responded to the survey, 65% of the foreign-affiliated companies and 37% of Japanese companies indicated that their office attendance rate is below 30%; 83% of the foreign-affiliated companies and 62% of the Japanese companies responded that their office attendance rate is below 50%. 

[Fig.2]What is your company’s current office attendances rate? (days working in the office)

2. Advantages and Benefits for Remote Work

The most significant positive impact realized with the implementation of remote work has been “Digitalizing internal operations and workflows (59%)“, followed by "improving employees’ work life balance (50%)”. There has been minimal impact on “Increasing employees’ retention rate (4%)”. There was no significant difference in the responses between the foreign-affiliated and Japanese companies. The overall trends suggest that the implementation of remote work has led to positive knock-on effects such as internal digitization and increasing leisure time for employees. These are tangible and distinct benefits for both employees and organizations.

[Fig.3] What positive progresses has been realized on employees and your organization as a result of the implementation of remote work? (Multiple answers are allowed)
*Answers are from companies that have implemented remote work for about one year.

3. Major Challenges of Working Remotely

The most significant challenge associated with the implementation of remote work is “Feeling out of touch and disconnected from people (62%)”, followed closely by “less frequent internal communication and information sharing leads to difficulty in collaborating (55%)”. The least frequent response is “Employees’ retention rate decreased (4%)”. This mirrors the results from the prior question in which, “Employees’ retention rate increased (4%)” was viewed as being an insignificant positive impact (Figure 3). With this, we can conclude that the impact on the “retention rate” due to remote work is negligible.

[Fig.4] What are the challenges and difficulties that employees and organization faced during remote working?
(Multiple answers are allowed) 
*Answers are collected from companies that have implemented remote work for about one year.

A Few Additional Comments include:

  • Mental health issues increased.

  • Employees complained that company's executive group intend to reduce the number of remote working without involving or consulting with other employees.

  • Company is not capable to establish a functional hybrid operating system in short period of time.

  • Training newcomers will be more convenient to perform in the office rather than the online environment.

  • Company has too many concerns to make solid decision to implement remote working.

4. Switching to Long-term Remote Work

Approximately 80% of both foreign-affiliated and Japanese companies indicated that they plan to continue with remote work when asked if they intend to put long-term remote work into practice. Apparently, remote work and virtual meetings are likely to be the new normal even after COVID-19 crisis.

[Fig.5]Does your company intend to implement long-term remote work in the future?

5. Employees' Engagement Level and Sense of Belonging

When investigating the employee’s engagement level and sense of belonging during the remote work, approximately 60% of the foreign-affiliated and Japanese companies answered “Yes, we are struggling with this issue”.

[Fig. 6] Are you struggling currently with employees’ insufficient engagement level and
lacking sense of belonging during remote work?

The most effective action has taken to increase the level of engagement and build a sense of belonging is to “Increase 1 on 1 communication between managers and their employees” accounting for 39% among all respondents. Other advantageous actions include "Set up team meetings more frequently (45% foreign, 26% Japanese)", "Adapt work strategy to let the teams decide how many days on average they need to be in the office(34% foreign, 15% Japanese)”, “Improve organization's information management, such as send out president's weekly messages (35% foreign, 19% Japanese)".

 [Fig.7] What actions have been taken in your organization to increase employees' engagement level and build a sense of belonging?
(Multiple answers allowed)

Outline of the survey

Survey method: Online survey
Area: Japan
Number of valid answers: 230 companies
Period: Nov 11-18, 2021
Respondent attribute: Foreign-affiliated Companies 43% / Japanese Companies 56%

▼Download PDF
2021 Survey on Remote Working Conditions in Global Companies in Japan_20220105.pdf

About en world Japan:

en world’s humble beginnings trace back to a tiny Tokyo hotel room in 1999. From the outset, we’ve always been focused on pairing global talent with internationally-minded businesses. Since then, we’ve solidified our presence in Tokyo Metropolitan Area, expanded domestically with offices in Osaka and Nagoya, and grown into a multinational operation with footholds across Asia. In 2010, on becoming part of the en-japan family, we implemented a new corporate mission of enabling success. As we move forward, we remain dedicated to seeking new heights, aiming to become the most respected recruiting partner in the global talent market.

Press Contacts

Nanae Inada, PR & Communications, en world Japan
Phone: 03-4578-7479

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