METI to launch monthly ‘Telework Day’ to promote flexible working environments

JIJI

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is considering giving all employees the option of telecommuting once a month, in light of last month’s launch of the public-private national “Telework Day” campaign.

The ministry will designate a specific day each month as Telework Day so employees can work outside their offices, METI officials said last week. Around 1,000 employees are expected to participate in the program, which will not be limited to those rearing children or caring for elderly kin.

The program, which could begin as early as September, would make METI the first central government agency to allow telecommuting every month. The ministry hopes the move will encourage companies to adopt more diverse and flexible working styles, the officials said.

METI’s telecommuting program was developed on orders of METI chief Hiroshige Seko.

The national Telework Day campaign only promotes telecommuting on July 24 — the day that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are scheduled to kick off in 2020. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other entities took part in the campaign, which is aimed at reducing crowding and transport congestion during the games.

The government hopes to make telecommuting as a widely adopted practice in Japan so it can be part of the legacy of the 2020 Games.

Seko has actively reformed working styles at METI since he took over in August 2016. As one example, he introduced the use of tablet computers at meetings to establish a paperless environment in the ministry. He also participated in telecommuting and allowed employees who are usually unable to go home until late at night to work from home.

As a result, 979 ministry officials worked outside their offices in fiscal 2016, up sixteenfold from 61 the previous year.