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September 30, 2020

Honda embraces work from home in Japan

Honda Motor is introducing work from home allowances and rearranging its office spaces in the latest sign that large Japanese companies confronting COVID-19 are making gradual but permanent revisions to their corporate cultures, a media report said.

By Olly Wehring

Honda Motor is introducing work from home allowances and rearranging its office spaces in the latest sign that large Japanese companies confronting COVID-19 are making gradual but permanent revisions to their corporate cultures, a media report said.

"After experiencing teleworking at home, we realised it is possible to implement a new kind of work style we had never imagined," Asako Suzuki, Honda's head of human resources and corporate governance, told Nikkei Asia. "It has become apparent that we were spending more time commuting and in meetings than was needed. [The pandemic and subsequent telework boom] made us reconsider our workflow from scratch."

Suzuki was speaking during an online news briefing on Tuesday.

In April, at the peak of Japan's outbreak, Honda allowed nearly 30,000 employees to work from home, over 70% of the automaker's total Japan workforce.

Next month it would suspend the traditional practice of paying employees' monthly commuter train expenses. In place of the stipend, Honda would provide a per day allowance of JPY250 (about $2.35) to help employees cover their increased utility bills and the costs of any equipment they might have had to buy so they can work from home.

Some employees might also receive company support for their purchases of face masks, air purifiers and wireless routers.

Nikkei Asia said Honda was also making arrangements for those still working out of the office. In some offices, desks were being moved to open space among workers while, in others, partitions were going up to create booths for individual workers.

In addition, internal agreements and other documents that had previously required signatures in ink would now be digitised so matters can be made official via email.

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