About 13 percent of company employees across Japan are working remotely as part of measures to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus, the first time for almost half of them, according to the results of a study by a Tokyo-based think tank.

Persol Research and Consulting Co. said Monday that 47.8 percent of respondents to a survey who were teleworking said it was a first for their current company, highlighting that many firms in Japan have used the pandemic as an opportunity to introduce and try out telecommuting.

The online survey, conducted from March 9 to 15, drew about 21,000 responses from company employees. It found that 33.7 percent of those not engaging in telecommuting would like to do so but are unable to for various reasons.

Of those not currently telecommuting, 41.1 percent said their company systems were not equipped to support such a practice. This was followed by "my duties could not be conducted remotely," selected by 39.5 percent, and "lack of telecommunications infrastructure" within the company by 17.5 percent.

The survey showed that 3.2 percent of employees had been ordered by their company to work remotely, while 18.9 percent said they were encouraged to.

Furthermore, 4.4 percent said their company had enforced staggered working hours to avoid packed rush-hour trains, while 25.0 percent responded that they had been encouraged by their company to commute earlier or later than usual.

The majority at 64.9 percent said they had not received any guidance on commuting times.