Disaster mitigation and a better "work-life balance" for staff are not the only benefits of having employees working outside the office, an increasing range of companies are now coming to realize.

Among these are two that are each pioneering a unique application for telework — one as means to help revitalize Japan's rural communities and the other to provide gainful employment to people with physical disabilities.

Sansan was founded five years ago by Chicahiro Terada, its now 36-year-old president who had previously worked with blue-chip trading house Mitsui & Co. Its key product is an online tool allowing for the storage and sharing of business cards between colleagues.