According to The Nikkei Asian Review, Working from home and being cut off from the visual and other cues co-workers give and take every day can cause stress, but online services are popping up to help colleagues reconnect.
As remote work takes hold, more employees are dealing with a range of emotions. There is more family time and added freedom from not having to commute. But there is also the stress and uneasiness of trying to work far from one's colleagues.
The face to face problem-solving that used to take place among co-workers now must be conducted via text messaging.
This is the void some Japanese startups are stepping into, bringing solutions that encourage better communication and understanding among colleagues.
It's Friday evening, early June, and the employees of Uridoki, a dealer of secondhand items in Tokyo's Shibuya are having drinks together. At least they would be if the pandemic never hit. But COVID-19 is a reality, one that chased these workers out of their office and into their homes, so their bonding session is being held over Zoom. Crayons are involved.
They are taking part in a picture-drawing workshop. As an emcee guides them along they draw pictures about something delicious they recently ate, what they imagine while listening to their current favorite songs or how they while away their stay-home time.
"It's the first time in 30 years that I have used crayons!" one participant says.
Uridoki CEO Yasuo Kogure, who expresses his enthusiasm for business in his crayon work of art, explains, "We have rookies and new members but we're losing our communication. I wanted to make up for this and strengthen the connections among us."
Play Life, a Tokyo-based operator of an Internet site for sharing leisure information, devised the Zoom workshop. The name of its online event service, Bazukuri, is Japanese for "creation of venues."
CEO Taichi Sato describes the service as a substitute for the corporate Japan tradition of in-house drinking parties. Remote work has broken down connections between employees and cut down on the conversations that used to be part of daily office life. Play Life says its programs bring colleagues closer together through the sharing of a single experience.
Its menu lists more than 100 programs, including a cooking workshop in which the same ingredients are delivered to everyone's homes and participants share the experience of making a pot of curry. There are also muscle-training and board game programs, each of which is moderated by Play Life employees so participants, the company says, won't be bothered by the sense of distance inherent in online interactions.
A total of 500 people have joined a shared experience since the service was rolled out at the end of May.
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