Even Japan’s workaholic companies introduce the four-day workweek

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  • Corporate life in Japan can be so intense that it is not uncommon to die of overwork.
  • Last year, the government recommended that companies allow staff to opt for a four-day work week.
  • Panasonic recently announced that it will begin offering the four-day work week to interested workers.

Electronics conglomerate Panasonic is the latest major Japanese company to announce a four-day work week to interested employees, Nikkei reported.

“We need to support the well-being of our employees,” Panasonic CEO Yuki Kusumi told investors at a recent briefing, according to the outlet.

Known for its culture of intense work, corporate life in Japan can be so ruthless that it is not uncommon to die of overwork.

In a bid to improve the country’s work-life balance, the Japanese government last June recommended that companies allow their staff to opt for a four-day work week, German broadcaster DW reported. .

Panasonic’s Kusumi said the company seeks to support diversity, as some workers may have side jobs or personal interests outside of their main job, according to public broadcaster NHK.

The company is also moving towards more flexible working methods. This includes encouraging more employees to work remotely and allowing workers to decide whether they wish to be moved to another city without their families – a common corporate practice in the country, NHK reported.

Panasonic joins a handful of Japanese companies introducing four-day workweek agreements, including pharmaceutical company Shionogi and systems developer Encourage Technologies. Both will offer the option from April, through Nikkei.

About 8% of Japanese companies were offering more than two days off per week in 2020, Nikkei reported, citing an official poll.

In the United States, the four-day workweek has been floating for decades, but remains out of reach for many workers, Insider’s Chris Weller wrote in November.

But that could change as the pandemic accelerates the war for talent, Jackie Reinberg, senior director of Willis Towers Watson, told Weller.

Last week, San Francisco-based ecommerce startup Bolt made a definitive switch to a four-day work week after a trial found improvements in productivity and work-life balance.

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