On April 27, 2020 Yvonne Burton of Burton Consulting International wrote about corporate and work culture in a time of crisis. Here, she continues on that theme, with her focus on technology.
I am sure that many large and medium-sized Japanese companies have established processes for WFH, but for those that are finding it most difficult at this time to transition seamlessly and successfully, they need to start now because in many ways it is already too late.
Updating staid work practices and utilizing technology can and will make work processes easier and more effective—and certainly more efficient overall. Please note that when I refer to technology, I am not only referring to computers, laptops, and software; I am also including streamlining cumbersome processes and outdated ways of doing things such in-person signatures that could easily be done via digital signatures and replacing faxing with scanning and e-mailing. Automate as many functions as possible so that resources’ time can be used for tasks that are more critical to business success.
Flexibility in WFH
As a solutions analyst for a large, multinational company for the past several years while mainly working from home, I, along with my co-workers, had tremendous flexibility. But we were professionals, and we always did our work and never missed any deadlines. WFH gave me more time due to no commuting. I was able to start work earlier to accommodate our product managers, development team, and quality assurance team members based in Europe, India, and Ukraine.
I do understand that technology is a different kind of environment, and even Japanese companies in the tech arena or other industries that specifically rely on technology are a little more open with working from home (I hope).
More than Just Technology
First, I do understand that there are a lot of jobs/professions that cannot be done from home. Second, there are a lot that technically could be done from home but do involve some level of difficulty. But for the jobs that can be done easily from home, why are a lot of Japanese companies so reluctant?
I believe that many Japanese companies are not just facing technology-related issues such as lack of laptops, no Wi-Fi in the home, and cramped spaces. They are also battling tradition, corporate culture, and a mindset that prevents fully embracing technological advances that are almost status quo in other developed nations. These are the bigger issues that Japanese society needs to address and overcome.
In terms of its lagging technology infrastructure, I wrote blog posts dealing with this in 2008 through 2010. To find that in many ways Japan is still experiencing the same shortfalls is alarming. This crisis is showing Japan once again that it has no choice. These things have to be handled and can be overcome. You are a nation prone to natural disasters, and there will be disruptions to normal working environments. From 3/11, there should have been contingency plans in every company that include technology options and remote working.
Creating a workforce that is enabled and empowered with technology should be paramount from this moment on. Embracing the need for a workforce that can easily adapt to altered work conditions by improving your technology infrastructure is imperative because it will increase the chances of business continuity and success in times of crisis.
In tomorrow’s post, I will focus on the importance of communication as it pertains to improving companies’ work culture while working from home.
With a background of ten years living in Japan and almost 20 years of experience working with remote teams worldwide, Yvonne Burton, president of Burton Consulting International, provides services including Technology Consulting, Business Communications courses, and Cross-Cultural Training to Japanese firms operating internationally and companies operating in the Japanese market. To learn more about Yvonne and her work, please visit burtonconsulting.biz.
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