Fewer Than 50% of Tokyo Companies Retain Telecommuting Systems

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Employees of Toyo Tire Corp. hold an office meeting after the company returned to a traditional workstyle, in principle, in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo.

The percentage of Tokyo-based companies that allow their employees to telecommute has fallen below 50% for the first time since April 2020, a Tokyo metropolitan government survey has shown.

The telephone survey, which has been conducted monthly since March 2020, covers about 1,000 companies with 30 or more employees.

In April this year, 200 of the 428 responding companies, or 46.7%, said they were continuing with telecommuting, down 4.9 percentage points from the previous month.

Telecommuting spread rapidly amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it is likely that many firms reverted to their traditional office workstyles from April, the start of their business year.

The percentage of companies that introduced telecommuting jumped from 24% in March 2020 — when the coronavirus began to spread — to 62.7% the following month, when the state of emergency was first declared. Thereafter, the percentage remained in the 50% to 60% range, peaking at 65% in August 2021 — when the fifth wave of coronavirus infections hit — then began to decline.

According to the April survey, 57 companies that had previously introduced telecommuting did not implement the system in April. A majority, or 30 companies, cited the ebbing of the coronavirus pandemic as a reason.

The metropolitan government plans to promote telecommuting even after the pandemic subsides to “spread flexible work styles,” and will launch a new program in June to subsidize the cost of necessary equipment.