Japanese people are known as “workaholics”, often work overtime and rarely take time off. However, this may change in the future as the “workation” model becomes more common in the workplace.
When the Japanese government announced it would “pressure” office people to implement the “workation” model, Yoshimasa Higashihara did not need to wait for a second inquiry.
As an assistant manager at Japan Airlines, Higashihara soon went on a “workation” trip to Osaka for a few days with friends this summer. He is planning another trip in the next few weeks.
“I really wanted to visit the Blue Pond in Hokkaido after seeing some photos of it, but haven’t had the chance to see it in person,” he said.
For Higashihara, the workation model is nothing new. True to its name – work and vacation (travel), this is a trend of working in combination with tourism to help young people balance between work life and rest time.
Higashihara himself has made 7 domestic “workations” and 3 overseas “workations” trips, including New York, Hawaii and Singapore, before the outbreak of Covid-19. According to him, this model of working and playing brings the best benefits in both career and personal life.
Mr. Yoshimasa Higashihara is enjoying a day of remote working in Osaka city (Japan). (Photo: Handout)
Normally, Higashihara will work about 2-4 hours / day and then use the rest of the time to rest. He said he learned a lot of new cultures and met interesting people.
The Japanese government has received support from the community when implementing the Go To Travel program in the country. They also plan to encourage companies to allow their employees to work on “workstations” to both support a part of the tourism industry and help the economy grow.
Green Pond in Hokkaido (Japan). (Photo: Rhea Mogul)
One of the goals that this model aims to be onsen resorts – which often operate in a traditional way and are very slow to adopt new technologies. The Japanese government has announced that it will sponsor hotels located in these onsen towns to install high-speed Wi-Fi connections.
With this in mind, companies can choose these towns as their satellite offices throughout the year.
According to information from the Japanese government, more than 4.2 million people have used the discount offers in the Go To Travel program within 3 weeks, up to August 20 – the peak time of the tourist season. every year. Discounted services include train tickets, airline tickets, hotel rentals, scenic entrance fees and restaurant catering services.
An onsen in Nagayu (Japan).
The most important factor in this model is the ability to work remotely. Although workers are traveling, they still have to spend a few hours a day for work. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Office hosted a tourism meeting in August, saying the government needs to give more support to hotels so that employees can work remotely.
Many corporations have contacted Japan’s largest travel agencies to develop projects for their employees. JTB Corp even set up a new division to solve this problem at the end of July.
Companies are working on programs to allow employees a few extra days on the weekend. This way, they will be able to take 5-6 days off completely, but still ensure work while traveling.
On August 31, JTB teamed up with NEC Corporation to implement a system that allows employees to book vacant rooms in hotels and use it as remote offices. There are about 30 hotels in the capital Tokyo that are taking the first phase. The plan is likely to be expanded to Osaka and Nagoya early next year and across Japan in March 2022.
“The idea of working remotely has attracted a lot of attention, but it’s too early to talk about how popular it is in Japan,” added Mori. “I think it will take a long time to change the mindset of companies and office workers. This model may be familiar to the staff, but companies need to change their internal rules, which is not easy. ”
The “workation” model will probably solve a problem that has existed for a long time in Japan, that is the lack of annual leave from the office workers.
Japanese workers are famously known as “workaholic” people.
According to a report from the travel company Expedia, the average Japanese office worker spends only about 50% of his or her annual leave days. This is the lowest of the 30 countries surveyed, while Germans, Britons and Singaporeans take 100%, 96% and 93% of their vacation days, respectively.
According to Japanese employers, they feel uncomfortable taking leave because it means colleagues will have to do their jobs. In addition, they worry that this action will show their lack of commitment to the company.