As the world’s most elite athletes enter the final leg of training before the 2020 Summer Olympics, the event’s host city, Tokyo, Japan, faces its own race against time, with only a few short months to prepare for an influx of more than 40 million tourists. Now more than ever, Tokyo is considering the benefits of remote work.
To cut down on local traffic and ensure the 2020 Olympic games don’t impede the success of Tokyo-based businesses, the Japanese government is doing everything it can to bring remote work to Tokyo. Each day, roughly 9 million people use the city’s rail system. That’s more than double the daily amount of New York City subway riders. The Olympics anticipates 650,000 additional rail riders each day during peak Olympic times. To address this, Tokyo has developed a plan to allow more of its workforce to work remotely.
Telecubes for Remote Work in Tokyo
Tokyo began implementing its plan two years ago. The city asked more than 900 organizations to provide employees with equipment needed to start telecommuting and to discourage in-office work. The following year, the same practice was followed, with 600,000 more professionals taking part. The city also installed rows of what they call “telecubes”—portable, phone-booth sized workspaces for any commuters who get stuck in transit.
By encouraging remote work, Japan hopes Tokyo’s workforce can maintain high levels of productivity during the 2020 Summer Olympics. But will these initiatives work as intended?
According to VC Daily, Tokyo professionals currently telecommute at a rate of about 4%. To offset the expected 2020 Olympics tourist wave, Tokyo needs to raise its telecommuting rate to at least 10%. (Granted, temporary telecommute rates should naturally rise once Olympic tourists begin arriving and extending commute times.)
More than 20% of the U.S. workforce currently telecommutes in some form. In contrast, the corporate culture of Japan has been more resistant to this type of change. If continued, this could hinder Tokyo’s remote work plan for its workers during the summer of 2020.
Perhaps, with more of a reason to give it a trial run more individuals and companies in Tokyo will embrace the benefits remote work offers after they are given a reason to give it a trial run.