COVID-19 lifestyle and side jobs

With people spending more time at home due either to work at home policies or being furloughed, it’s perhaps not surprising that some are looking at side jobs, the subject of this COVID-19-related survey from MacroMill.

Side jobs actually used to be banned by many companies until about a year or two ago when there was a big push to allow it, although I cannot remember what the driver for this national policy change was…

I suppose this is my side job, although if I counted up my income and expenditure it’s a money pit…

On the other hand, since I don’t need to commute, I can do much more overtime, so overall I’m better off thanks to the pandemic.

Almost two in three Japanese skive off when teleworking

Not that I think there is anything inherently bad about taking a breather now and then, and it’s not as if people are working solidly 9 to 5 when in the office. This survey from Bizhits into skiving while doing remote work (full survey here) also revealed what problems people have working from home.

I’m working from home, so just in case my boss is reading, I’ve never skived, oh no.

My main concern is that my work environment is pretty awful; a low table, tiny notebook computer screen, and a very uncomfortable mouse setup that is not doing my wrist any good.

Teleworking VPN usage in Japan

This survey from HENNGE amongst corporate Information System professionals into corporate telework and VPN usage shows that it wasn’t just my office whose VPN struggled under the traffic at the start of the Stay Home campaign.

For the first month my corporate VPN was very difficult to connect to (although I got informed of a side entrance that skipped the queue) and we were only supposed to connect for a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon, but the capacity has been upped and since then I have had zero problems regarding logging in.

Working from home works very well for me, as I can use the VPN to attach to my office desktop and use my company laptop to develop almost just as efficiently as if I was physically sitting in the office, and of course I am free of all the office background noise and the crowded commute.

Lifestyle changes under COVID-19

The company Link and Communication, who make an AI health advisor mobile app called Calomama, surveyed their users about mental and physical health changes since the State of Emergency was declared.

I’m working from home, and my walking distance has been reduced from an average of 10,000 steps to about 500 or so. However, it’s been great for my stress levels, even though I find myself doing much more overtime than I did in the office. Due to the wonders of modern technology, I can log into my beefy work PC and do 95% of what I need to do.

Even better, the company has extended work at home for the forseeable future; the target is less than 50% per team commuting, but I think our team is under 10% right now.

Here’s a random Japan home office that is much more exiting than mine:

Office; May 2006

Taking paid holidays in Japan

A survey from the internet service provider (with a sideline in surveys) Biglobe into paid holidays revealed the sorry state of paid holiday usage in Japan.

As an employee of a company with proactive holiday-taking initiatives, such as three 10-day holidays per year, a recommendation to take two paid holidays per month (with follow-up if you fall too far behind), and a requirement to take a minimum of 80% of our 25 or so holidays (plus publics) each year with a recommendation to take all 100%, it still is difficult to take more than two consecutive days of personal holidays. Conversely, it is ridiculously easy to take a skive or a man-flu day, which I feel is more of a disruption than a planned week holiday.

At my place of work, I feel the main hindrance to taking holidays is little skill or training in delegation of tasks, plus schedules (if they exist) assume 100% attendance; everyone thinks they are far too important to leave their post for more than a day or two.

AirBnb-style rentals: cheapness main attraction

HomeAway, Expedia’s AirBnb-style site, recently published an interesting survey into minpaku, private rentals.

The two types of rentals in the survey are first renting a complete dwelling, a flat or a house, and second, the more traditional B’n’B style of renting out a room in someone’s home. In Japan, the term is 民泊, minpaku, and taking the characters literally it might be something like “staying with the people”. There is a long history of minpaku, which used to be more like traditional B’n’B with all the regulation that goes with that, but now it is usually taken as referring to the probably-illegal-in-most-circumstances private rental of rooms and flats.

I am very much anti-AirBnB; traditional B’n’Bs have many regulations covering them, including the obvious one of insurance for guests, but most net-based rentals turn a blind eye on these regulations, and renting out complete units in blocks of flats can often cause friction with the neighbours due to guests being unfamiliar or just ignoring the social norms that apply in Japanese shared accommodation.

Business book titles that tempt Japanese to read further

goo Ranking chose a bunch of business book titles and presented them to their monitor group to choose the titles that made people want to learn about the contents.

Note that all the title translations are my original work, but there might be official English titles for some of them.

Number three sounds most curious, but I’ve not travelled in the Green Car enough (ie, never) to make any judgement as to where it is true or not. I can quite understand number one, but some of the ones like “Being good at cosplay equals being good at work!” just sound a bit too forced to be worth picking up.

Number 6 says successful people don’t drink can coffee, but here’s proof that a world executive boss has can coffee:

Boss coffee in green

Surprising realities of dispatch work

Here’s one of these times that goo Ranking’s surveys give a detailed view of some aspect of Japan’s society, this time being the surprising realities of dispatch workers.

The dispatch law in Japan is a complex beast; for example the company where people are placed cannot legally instruct the dispatched staff or even select who gets placed – it all has to go through the dispatch company, although my experience of working with dispatchers is that the letter of the law is not always followed…

This situation will probably be familiar to many of my readers, as there is an increasing tendancy for Japanese schools to employ English teachers through dispatch companies; one major benefit for the schools or private companies is that it is very easy to dismiss the workers at the end of a short-term contract, whereas full-time employees are very difficult to dispatch, shall we say.

You’ll notice also that the vast majority of the points below are negative.

Here’s the only kind of dispatch most Japanese can get behind; the sign on the back says “Disaster Dispatch”, Japan’s Self Defence Force being sent to help out with natural disasters.


Why Japanese work and don’t work

This combined survey and ranking from @nifty into working revealed a few attitudes that were new to me, so hopefully my readers will enjoy it too!

First, less than a third report taking a sickie or slacking on the job; I can understand, perhaps, people not wanting to admit slacking even in an anonymous setting, but in my experience with my employer, who offers more holidays than people can take, I feel that many people find it easier to phone in sick rather than go through the proper channels to request a holiday; I have no data to back this up, though!

I’m not sure if 25% workplace romances is high or low; I suppose it depends on whether or not the majority were affairs or not. I do remember when I joined our work union, at the introductory meeting they reminded everyone that one of their offerings were regular matchmaking-like social gatherings.

Here’s someone sleeping on the job: