Telework implementation rate is declining

The government has recently extended the emergency declarations of the four prefectures of Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo, and Kyoto until the end of May, added Aichi and Fukuoka to the scope of the emergency declarations, and also included areas subject to priority measures such as prevention of spread. Enlarged. However, the number of infected people is showing a tendency to increase even after the end of Golden Week, and the severe situation continues.

Priority measures such as the declaration of an emergency and the prevention of spread are centered on the closure of restaurants, shortened business hours and the provision of alcoholic beverages, the closure of large commercial facilities, the holding of events and the limitation of the number of people. There is no doubt that these will continue to be important factors in controlling the spread of infection.

However, on the other hand, I am concerned that the momentum for expanding telework is lower than before. Suppressing the flow of people is the key to prevent the spread of infection, but from that point of view, not only eating and drinking and traveling, but also reducing the number of workers every sunrise and expanding telework for that purpose. It should be more important.

However, in reality, it seems that telework has not increased so much. According to a survey by the Japan Productivity Center (targeting approximately 1,100 employees nationwide), the percentage of people who are implementing telework as of April (immediately after priority measures such as spread prevention have been applied in Tokyo and other areas). Was 19.2%. The Productivity Center has conducted similar surveys five times so far, but it is significantly lower than the 31.5% of the first survey in May last year (when the first state of emergency was declared). is.

Since the second survey, the telework implementation rate has been around 20%, and even in January this year when the second state of emergency was declared, it was only 22.0%.

  • Telework implementation rate

It is possible that the telework implementation rate has increased slightly with this state of emergency, but it does not appear to have increased dramatically. The government’s goal is to “reduce the number of employees by 70%,” but the reality is that it is far from the goal, as estimated from data on the number of people at terminal stations.

Is “there is no work that can be teleworked” true?

So why doesn’t telework increase? A survey by the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be helpful in this regard. According to the same survey conducted from January to February this year for small and medium-sized enterprises in Tokyo, when asked why they were not able to carry out telework, 63.5% answered that “there is no work that can be teleworked”. The largest number (multiple answers) was followed by “maintenance of PC and communication environment” at 34.2%, followed by “decrease in productivity” (23.6%), “information security” (same as above), and “communication with business partners”. “(23.4%) and so on.

  • Why you can’t telework

It is often pointed out that the telework implementation rate of SMEs is lower than that of large enterprises, but the results of this survey also show that the hurdles for implementing telework are high for SMEs. However, if you take this a little further and think about it, some problems will emerge.

First of all, about the reason that the most answered “There is no work that can be teleworked”. Certainly, there are some tasks that cannot be teleworked. However, instead of giving up on teleworking immediately, if you consider each workplace or individual work in the company separately, you should be able to identify the work that can be teleworked as much as possible. Is there really no room for some employees to take flexible measures such as teleworking one or two days a week, even if all employees do not fully telework?

Experienced teleworkers “have improved efficiency”

You may hear people say, “No, there are few advantages to that extent. On the contrary, there are more disadvantages of telework such as reduced productivity.” Generally speaking, this is a point that is often pointed out, and as I mentioned earlier, it can be said that “decrease in productivity” is the third reason why telework is not possible. ..

However, people who have actually experienced telework have voiced something different from that image. In the aforementioned survey by the Japan Productivity Center, when asked “Did work at home improve efficiency?”, In the first survey (May last year), 7.2% answered “Slightly improved”. 26.6% answered “up”, the total of the two was only 33.8%, and the total of “down” and “slightly decreased” was overwhelmingly higher at 66.2%. However, the percentage of “increased” and “slightly increased” increased in each subsequent survey, reaching 59.1% in the 5th survey (April this year).

  • Did efficiency increase?

From this result, it can be seen that the efficiency often decreases due to unfamiliarity at the beginning of the telework transition, but the efficiency increases as it continues or after several experiences. This shows that telework is more effective and can be felt by employees by sustaining it rather than ending it temporarily.

DX that divides the fate of the after-corona era

Also, in the above-mentioned survey, “maintenance status of PC and communication environment” and “information security” were mentioned as reasons why telework cannot be carried out, but this certainly seems to be a high hurdle. For small and medium-sized enterprises, it is not unclear that this is a bottleneck and cannot be teleworked. But is it okay to stay there?

The delay in digitization of Japan was highlighted in this Corona disaster. It’s not just the administration. Digitization is an urgent task for companies as well, and it will be one of the biggest management issues in the future. Recently, the importance of DX (Digital Transformation), which promotes total digitization from research and development to production, sales, marketing, organizational management, and management decision-making processes, is not limited to individual business levels within a company. Sex is being shouted. This is not just about so-called IT companies, it is an indispensable theme for companies in all industries.

It is no exaggeration to say that the success or failure of this DX will determine the fate of companies in the after-corona era. It is no exception for small businesses. Therefore, it is essential to improve the communication environment and take proper information security measures. It can be said that it is necessary to tackle these digitalization issues with the introduction of telework, rather than “telework is not possible because the communication environment and information security measures are not in place”.

Full-scale support measures for promoting telework

In this way, telework is an important theme that goes beyond the infection control measures in front of us to change the way companies manage and work. The company itself is fully aware of that.

According to the above-mentioned survey by the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the effects of teleworking are “progress of work style reform” (44.3% = multiple answers, same below), “review of business processes” (40.5%), and “cost reduction”. “(22.8%),” Improvement of productivity of routine work “(12.0%), etc. are mentioned. These strengthen the foundation of a company’s competitiveness and lead to long-term growth.

  • Implementation effect of telework

The significance of telework has been mentioned several times in this series (6th “Telework becomes a catalyst for structural reform of the Japanese economy” dated July 8, 2020, 12th “Finally the second emergency”. Declaration of the situation and further expansion of telework “, January 19, 2021 etc.). Including the contents of this time, the effects of telework can be summarized as follows.

  1. Prevention of spread of infection
  2. Business efficiency and productivity improvement
  3. Part of DX promotion
  4. Work style reform

In deciding to extend the state of emergency, the government has announced a policy of requesting companies to announce the implementation status of telework. At the same time, full-scale support measures are needed to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to promote telework. For this, it is indispensable to build a network that provides technical support and support as well as financial aspects such as subsidies.

From the above perspective, I would like you to review telework again and expand its possibilities. This will lead to the revitalization of the Japanese economy and the strengthening of corporate competitiveness.