In the face of a labor shortage and a push to get more women into the workforce, some Japanese companies are taking steps to accommodate the needs of working parents, such as allowing them to bring their children to the office or to work from home.

There are two prongs to this: Flexibility is seen as creating a more family-friendly working environment, but some firms are also looking to mobilize former employees who left when they had a baby.

At the office of Sow Experience Inc., a Tokyo-based company that sells so-called experience gifts — such as vouchers for vacations or classes — a 30-something female worker turned away from her computer and hugged her 3-year-old son as he ran toward her.