Teleworking shrinks in Japan after Covid, hybrid working on the rise

A government survey for fiscal year 2023 showed that the proportion of teleworkers in Japan is falling as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, while “hybrid work” combining remote work and office work is on the rise. The direction is being taken.

The online survey conducted by the Transport Ministry in October and November found that 5,832 of 36,228 respondents, or 16.1 percent, worked from home or elsewhere outside the office in the past year, down 2.7 percentage points from the previous survey.

Teleworking became popular during the pandemic as part of the government's campaign to reduce the flow of people to slow the spread of infection, but the ministry saw little change in the trend.

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This photo taken on March 30, 2023 shows the headquarters of Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. in Tokyo, which has few seats and no assigned desks as it adapts to telework. (kyodo)

The proportion was 21.4 percent in the fiscal year 2021 survey and fell to 18.8 percent the following year.

The latest survey showed that the average frequency of teleworking was 2.3 days per week, unchanged from a year earlier.

The change in telecommuting patterns became notable after the government downgraded the legal status of COVID-19 in May last year, broadly aligning it with seasonal influenza.

The number of people working remotely only one or two days a week increased to 13.5 percent and 15.8 percent, respectively, up from 9.5 percent and 14.4 percent between 2020 and 2022 during the novel coronavirus outbreak. In contrast, the number of people working remotely five to seven days a week dropped from 34.7 percent to 28.7 percent.

“After the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend of going to office and telework has increased,” a ministry official said.

The survey also suggested that large cities have the highest rates of remote working.

By region, the telecast rate in the greater Tokyo area was 28 percent, followed by 15 percent in the Kinki region covering Osaka and Kyoto, 13.3 percent in the Chukyo region centered on Nagoya, and 8.8 percent in other regional cities.

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