Being Watched Is The Motivation for Salarymen – Zaitaku 3

June 11, 2011 Juju Kurihara Business, Culture, Japan, Society Tags: 0 Comments

This is the third part of Why can´t Japanese salarymen work from home? from JB Press.


It´s obvious that Japanese salarymen are using small houses as an excuse. Nowadays as almost all houses have an internet connection and there is no reason not to introduce zaitaku (在宅/work from home) system.

momikuchaThe companies encourage their employees to do and the productivity is higher, moreover they don´t need to get in those famously packed trains. There are so many good things about working from home, then how come Japanese salarymen are not so keen on it.


This comes from Japanese mentality of “family”. Family should be seen to each other.

According to the Panasonic e-Work promoting team leader, Ms. Nagaki, this is a matter of “mentality”. There is a very strong preconceived idea between Japanese salarymen that “if you stay until late in the office, people will have a good opinion of you and your boss will favor you over others”.


drinkingJapanese companies are based on the concept of “family” and “fellowship” has been always very important. It´s believed that the sense of “being a member of the family” or “companionship” strengthens the sense of belonging and as a result, it will increase the capacity of each employee. And she adds, this concept did work in some period in the past.



To be a member of the family or a fellowship, it´s important to show that you are working, you are taking a part. “Visibility” is the most important for Japanese society.


The columnist says “although it´s undeniable this visibility takes a big part of the society, it´s not always the best way”. One of the disadvantage is “going to the office” has become job for salarymen.

office 1As long as they are in the office, even though they are just sitting at their desk and not doing anything particularly, they are considered to be “working”. The bosses also even thought they don´t control what their staff are doing exactly, as long as their staff are in front of them, they “believe” that they are completing their role as a boss.

This is an extreme example but not too far from the reality. And this is not productive at all. However, the system keeps going by always someone covers others. In this sense, Japanese business works on the premise that someone will do it.



When we are little, we often do silly things or misbehave in the public space and this is normal. In such situation we often hear the parents saying "don´t do that, they will see you" or "they will tell you off". Then I think "who are THEY?". Those "they" are not the old lady sitting next to the kid nor the businessman reading manga in front. "They" means "society" and we all grow up being taught the sense of collectivity and the importance of visibility.

By watching each other, increase the productivity and with the feeling of being watched motivate Japanese salarymen. This makes more sense to me why working from home doesn´t work in Japan.

To be continued.



More about Japanese working situation

Kagome initiates no Zangyo after 8 

Service overtime work 


Zaitaku 2

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