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Tokyo Wants To Make Flexible Working A Reality For 2020 Olympics

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Inspired by London 2012, the Japanese government wants remote working to help transport and improve the life of citizens for Tokyo 2020

The Japanese government hopes its latest ‘Telework’ day will encourage more people in Tokyo to adopt flexible working practices ahead of the 2020 Olympics, hoping to ease congestion on transportation networks and to improve the lives of citizens. 

Around one million additional travellers are expected to use the capital’s subways, trains and buses during the Games, placing additional strain on infrastructure already used by 35 million people within the Greater Tokyo conurbation. 

Authorities hope the widespread use of advanced technology, such as smartphones and 4G, in the country will allow people to work from home, shared working environments or cafes, or at least stagger their commute so they miss rush hour. 

Tokyo 2020 (6)

Tokyo 2020 flexible working 

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry claims it will take about a month to fully analyse the data, but there are plans to hold a ‘Telework Day’ every year in the lead up to 2020 to help people devise a strategy and for companies to get used to the idea. 

It has been inspired by similar programmes held during the London 2012 Olympics, which were successful. However Tokyo will need even more success given the higher population and reliance on mass transit. 

According to The Japan Times, half of the staff at NTT Data’s Tokyo headquarters participated in the event. Nearly 3,000 staff worked outside the office while the same number travelled after rush hour. Another 1,800 took the day off. 

Stable jobs and a high work ethic are valued in Japan, where it is often considered rude to leave the office before a superior does. There are also concerns this workaholic culture is having an adverse effect on family life, especially considering the declining birth rate, and consumer spending. 

It is hoped this change in culture can be a social legacy of Tokyo 2020. 

“In the past, economic growth was achieved through hard work and long working hours,” Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike is quoted as saying. “But now, it’s unlikely for people to think that long working hours are linked to achievement.” 

Earlier this year, Silicon paid a visit to the city, which could employ a number of smart transport applications during the Olympics. These include multi-lingual signage, beacon-powered assistance and smart street applications. 

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