Yahoo Japan is doubling down on remote work, telling its 8,000 employees they can do their jobs from anywhere in the East Asian country, and that it’ll pay for their flights to the office if they ever need to come in.
Workers at the company have been able to remote work since 2014, but as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020, the programme rapidly expanded.
Now around 90 per cent of Yahoo’s employees in Japan regularly work from home.
Yahoo Japan – owned by tech conglomerate Softbank – is a major player in the country’s IT industry.
Its web portal is one of Japan’s most-visited websites, and it operates a range of services including an online auctioneer and mobile payment system, while Softbank operates a Yahoo-branded mobile network.
“After dialogues and a number of surveys in which 90 per cent of employees said it either did not affect or even improved their performance at work, Yahoo has decided to let them live anywhere in the country,” company president Kentaro Kawabe said on Twitter.
The change, announced on Wednesday, will come into force on April 1.
Planes, trains, and long-distance buses
Until now, Yahoo Japan required remote working staff to live within commuting distance of the company’s offices.
Employees who choose to live further from the company’s Tokyo headquarters will now also be able to claim travel expenses for domestic flights, long-distance buses and express trains up to a maximum monthly allowance of ¥150,000 (€1,141), Yahoo Japan said.
Yahoo worker Shinichiro Kakutani told Japan’s FNN News that remote working had allowed him to move nearer to family in the resort town of Yuzawa, about a 90-minute ride from Tokyo by bullet train.
“I’m able to live right by my elderly mother. I can support her, shovelling snow and clearing it from the roof,” he said.
By moving to liberalise its remote working practices, Yahoo Japan joins rival Japanese e-commerce firm Mercari, which granted its employees the right to work from anywhere in September last year.
Remote working not the norm
But the two tech companies stand out in Japan, where remote working is far from the norm.
The initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic saw Japan’s rates of home working peak at around 55 per cent, according to a survey of almost 10,000 businesses.
That figure later fell to around 38 per cent by March 2021.
In 2022, the spread of the Omicron variant has already led Japanese government officials to push for greater acceptance of remote working.
On Thursday, Japan’s economic revitalisation minister Daishiro Yamagiwa called on the country’s three largest business lobbies to plan for a future with more teleworking, the Jiji press agency reported.
“We hope to make public advanced cases where companies are utilising telework effectively and hopefully spread such use of telework to other companies,” Yamagiwa said.