In Japan, the global pandemic has led to some—but certainly not all—Japanese companies have employees work from home. Square Enix wants to make this choice permanent for its employees.
“Rather than utilizing work from home solely as a means of preventing infections during the current pandemic, the Company will establish it as a permanent and core program among the working styles it accommodates,” Square Enix stated in an official release. “In so doing, the Company hopes not only to create a flexible and diverse working environment, but also to further bolster productivity and help employees achieve the optimal work-life balance.”
The option will be available starting December 1.
This is a big move by Square Enix. In Japanese companies, there often seems to be pressure to be (and stay) in the office as a way to show hard work. In the Japanese game industry, there has been some hesitancy to allow work-from-home because of security concerns, with employees taking work computers home. “This is a highly confidential job, and because it’s not like people can take it home and bring development materials with them, honestly, work cannot progress,” Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai wrote previously about working from home options during the pandemic.
According to Square Enix, by offering a permanent work-from-home solution, it can attract a wider variety of employees and better help its staff to reach their full creative potential. Here is how Square Enix describes the difference between it’s “home-based” and “office-based” options:
Providing customers with unforgettable entertainment requires creativity and productivity. Moreover, the nature of the work involved demands consistent, robust security. As such, the Work-from-home Program will combine “home-based” and “office-based” models.
The Company will designate each employee as either “home based” (working an average of at least three days per week from home) or “office based” (working an average of at least three days per week from the office). In general, all eligible employees will be designated as “home based.” Division heads will designate some positions or individual employees as “office based” as dictated by the nature of the work involved.
Status changes will be allowed on a monthly basis depending upon the intensity of an employee’s duties. The Company expects approximately 80% of employees to be home based in December, the first month of the program’s implementation.
In February, when the pandemic was just starting in Japan, Square Enix began allowing staff to work from home. Other changes were also instituted such as staggered work hours and online conferencing. An internal review revealed that around 80 percent of Square Enix employees had a positive view of working from home, which led to the finalization of a permanent option.
“By enabling the option of monthly status changes rather than establishing blanket rules regarding who works from home and who from the office, the Company has designed a program that should be highly satisfactory both to those performing duties and those managing them.”