Heightened concerns over the new coronavirus outbreak has led many Japanese companies to make greater use of teleworking as a health measure, to prevent exposing their employees to the virus on public transport or in offices.

The trend of allowing employees to work from home or other remote locations using information technology also comes amid government efforts to popularize the practice as a way to prevent traffic congestion ahead of the summer’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The experience may also prompt companies to adopt teleworking as an emergency measure in times of disaster.

Major staffing agency Pasona Group Inc. is encouraging some 13,000 contract and other employees to arrive for work during off-peak hours or to telework from home.

The initiative is slated to run until the end of February, but the company may extend it depending on circumstances.

Euglena Co. is also telling its roughly 170 workers who commute to work by train to either shift their working hours or telework from Monday to Feb. 14. A similar measure was taken last year when a major typhoon struck the country.

“Employees were able to do their work without being caught up in traffic chaos,” the health food company said of its experience last year.

Since the coronavirus outbreak began in China, many companies have adopted teleworking for workers there and for employees who recently visited the country.

Fujitsu Ltd. has told its workers at an IT service base in Shanghai to telework from home over the five days to Friday.

Nomura Holdings Inc. has ordered employees who returned from China on or after Jan. 15 to work from home for 14 days after leaving the country, deemed long enough to cover the virus’ incubation period.

Daiwa Securities Group Inc. has also instructed employees returning from China not to come to work for 14 days, during which workers can choose to work from home.

According to a 2018 survey by the communications ministry, 15.1 percent of companies polled said that the continuation of work during emergencies, such as influenza outbreaks, was a reason for introducing teleworking.

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