Japan’s armies of “salaried” were famous for spending endless hours in office. Now one tech giant is trying to make the experience more engaging by allowing pets.
Fujitsu Limited (6702.T), which makes everything from air conditioners to supercomputers, opened an experimental “dog office” in July in one of its buildings in Kawasaki, near Tokyo.
After teleworking throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Yuka Hatagaki was a Fujitsu employee who returned to the office a few times each month with her five-year-old Maltese-Poodle cross, Noel.
“As remote working has become the norm, it has become more difficult to communicate,” Hatagaki told Reuters. “So I thought it would be a great place here to be able to come and communicate with other people with the help of our dogs.”
The plan is more similar to that of Silicon Valley than to corporate Japan, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rapid change in work patterns. Telecom in Japan increased from 10% to 28% between December 2019 and May 2020, although still lower than in many major economies based on OECD data.
Advertising company Dentsu Group Inc (4324.T) and logistics provider Nippon Express Co are among companies that have considered selling their central Tokyo headquarters to save money as more workers working from home.
But more than two years after the pandemic and as infections ease, there are signs the pendulum is heading back to office work. Specifically, teleworking has declined sharply among people in their 20s and 30s, according to surveys by researcher Japan Productivity Center.
Fujitsu’s dog offices, separate from standard work areas and operating on a trial basis through the end of the year, have workstations for three employees and space for six dogs at a time. It also has stain-proof carpets and a range of pet supplies.
But when 30-year-old Hatagaki returned to the office promising to work with her dog, Fujitsu says the project is not intended to bring workers back inside the building. Fujitsu and financial services firm Nomura Holdings Inc (8604.T) were among companies saying they would make working from home a sustainable option even after the pandemic.
Mitsuya Akamatsu, Fujitsu’s head of work style strategy, said, “Ever since COVID, work life and our personal lives have changed drastically.” “We’re always thinking about what kind of changes are needed.”
He said, “We can’t say that we will stick with this style of working with pets for long because it is still a test, but personally I feel like seeing it spread in our society.” will be good.”
Another dog office user, Mayumi Inoue, became a pet owner during the pandemic. She said coming to work also backfired for her dog, a six-month-old Pomeranian named Toramaru.
“Compared to staying at home, your dog gets to mingle with his canine friends and people, so there’s a good incentive for them as well,” Inoue said.