Workation: The New Normal for Working in Japan after COVID-19?
1. So, what exactly is a ‘workation’?
The term workation is an amalgamation of the words ‘work’ and ‘vacation’. It involves combining business and pleasure by taking a short break from the office to work remotely from a holiday destination.
Workations give employees a break from their usual work environment, whilst enabling them to continue their jobs.
In some cases, this involves paying for accommodation and travel expenses whilst working, but now local Japanese governments and companies are taking the initiative to at least partially cover costs for their employees and enable them to work at other destinations.
Some companies allow their employees to continue their full holiday through workations in Japan or abroad, saving on travel costs and providing a smoother transition back into work following a leave of absence.
2. How is the workation scheme being implemented in Japan?
The governments of several Japanese prefectures have formed an alliance to support the promotion of ‘workations’ in Japan, collaborating with organisations across the country. The alliance has been established primarily by the rural prefectures of Wakayama and Nagano, and Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka has been appointed the leader.
Local governments hope the initiative will encourage more travel and business growth in rural areas outside of the capital city, an issue that has become increasingly important following the impact of the coronavirus on the tourism sector.
Currently the trend of establishing a satellite office or co-working space in places famous for travel and leisure is rising in Japan. For example, in Tokyo you can do workation by renting the co-working space at OKUTAMA+, where you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city center, and work surrounded by lush nature. Places such as Karuizawa, Kamakura and Nikko that are famous for weekend retreats are also becoming popular choices as workation spaces for Tokyoites.
3. How are Japanese companies implementing ‘workations’?
Companies who have already adopted the initiative in Japan include JAL (Japan Airlines), who offer workations in Hawaii. The plan of the alliance is for many more companies to join the initiative, offering opportunities for workations in Japan and across the world.
Legislation from April 2019 mandated employees take at least 5 days paid leave from work each year. Alongside the ‘workation’ initiative, changes are being made in Japanese companies to mandate better rest time for employees as part of company policy.
Companies are discovering that businesses where workers are encouraged to take more vacations have higher retention rates and better productivity.
4. What are the pros and cons of workations?
Workations across Japan and abroad can be a real positive for workers, as they provide an opportunity to extend holidays, make savings on travel, and provide more time to spend with family in idyllic settings. This is especially beneficial for employees at Japanese companies, which are trying to dispel stigma around paid leave.
There are concerns that workations further blur the work/life balance, but these are being addressed by companies by enabling employees to designate set times for work and rest, and providing designated work spaces.
With concerns about the travel industry rising after the impact of COVID-19, workations are set to become a new part of Japanese work culture. Take a look through our jobs board for new tech jobs for foreign workers in Japan. Most of our job openings are offering remote work and flexible work time systems so you can do them in workation style!
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