Japanese telecommunications giant rolls out plan to reimburse travel for 30,000 employees, including air travel to office

Japan faces a labor shortage due to a rapidly aging society.Jason Ortego/Unsplash

  • Japanese telecommunications giant NTT will start treating office trips as business trips, according to Kyodo News.

  • Starting in July, NTT is expected to reimburse 30,000 employees for travel costs.

  • The flexible work program aims to attract and retain talent amid labor shortages in Japan.

At Japanese telecommunications giant NTT, remote working is the new normal – and commuting is the new business trip.

From July, NTT will reimburse domestic workers for their journey to the office – even if they are one plane ride away, Kyodo News reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. Employees can work from anywhere in Japan, and the company will pay for accommodation when employees need to return to the office.

The company will roll out the program to 30,000 of its employees in Japan before expanding it, according to the report. NTT said in September it was considering allowing all of its 320,000 employees worldwide to work remotely.

NTT’s flexible working program aims to attract and retain talent amid labor shortages in Japan, according to Kyodo. This is when Japan faces a labor shortage due to a rapidly aging society and a large number of women leaving their jobs after marriage due to cultural expectations.

NTT’s program also comes two years after the COVID-19 pandemic forced much of the global workforce to work from home, prompting some to rethink their priorities and purpose in life. This led to great resignation in the United States and other parts of the world. Many workers in Japan are also questioning the country’s intense work culture and corporate life in the wake of the pandemic, The New York Times reported in April.

As the pandemic subsides, business leaders are considering bringing the workforce back to the office after two years of pandemic-induced remote working.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said last week he was doing “everything” he could to get staff back to the office – but not returning “to the level” he wants. To get employees back into the office, Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued an ultimatum to senior staff earlier this month, telling them to return to the office or quit.

At the other end of the spectrum, Airbnb allows employees to live and work from anywhere forever, CEO Brian Chesky announced in April.

NTT did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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