Could tech help curb Japan’s overwork mania?

Companies are exploring new ways to force employees out of the office at the end of the day

Could tech help curb Japan’s overwork mania?
Japanese employees are notorious for putting in long hours, but a drone that hovers over them and blares music telling them to go home may just begin to change that.

Office security and cleaning firm Taisei recently launched the T-Frend, which can be used by companies starting April 2018, reported AFP-JIJI.

“You can’t really work when you think ‘it’s coming over any time now,’ and hear ‘Auld Lang Syne’ along with the buzz,” said Norihiro Kato, a director at Taisei.

Taisei is working with drone system developer Blue Innovation and telecoms operator NTT East.

The drone has a camera, which stores footage on an SD card. It allows the monitoring of office scenes from a remote location. It takes off from a port, makes a surveillance flight on a pre-set path and then returns autonomously.

T-Frend’s developers are also mulling facial recognition technology so the drone tell who is in the office after hours or whether there is an intruder.

There is no official service fee yet but Kato estimates it to be around ¥500,000 ($4,500) a month.

Administrative officers in many firms have tried telling workers to go home after required hours, but these officers end up staying overtime as well. Companies have also been struggling to have enough staff given the labor shortage in Japan.

T-Frend therefore serves the twin function of reducing overtime and making up for this labor shortage, its developers claim.

Japan’s government has been trying to change a culture in which working long hours is perceived as proof of loyalty and dedication. Overwork has been blamed for deaths due to strokes, heart attacks and suicides.

For example, in February, Japan launched the “Premium Friday” program where employees are encouraged to knock off early on the last Friday of the month.

The aim is to reduce work hours and pump-prime consumer spending.

The plan did not take off, as workers said the last Friday of the month is one of their busiest days.

Related stories:
Journalist died of overwork, bosses reveal
PR firm fined for overtime culture

Free newsletter

Our daily newsletter is FREE and keeps you up-to-date with the world of HR. Please complete the form below and click on subscribe for daily newsletters from HRD Asia.

Recent articles & video

Govt seeks public feedback on wage policies

Cathay Pacific under fire for allowing pilot with measles to fly

How can tech improve your healthcare strategy?

Worker spikes colleagues with LSD because they’re ‘too uptight’

Most Read Articles

Mental wellness: why C-suite should lead the discussion

Worker sues after being fired while on sick leave following miscarriage

The benefits and pitfalls of a 'four-day work week'