Japan makes it possible: home office in the car and on the train

Because many Japanese hardly have room to work at home, new ideas have to be found. In Hamatsu, people can now rent office cars for this purpose, and the Japanese bullet train Shinkansen is quickly becoming a speeding workplace.

After South Korea, Japan is the country within the OECD (Organization for Development and Economic Cooperation) with the highest proportion of fiber optic connections among all stationary broadband connections. But in times of Corona, ultra-modern technology is still a long way from solving everyday problems. In Japan, too, companies have to offer their employees a home office, but the living conditions of many people there are more than cramped, there is simply no space for it.

Necessity is the mother of invention: home office in a minivan

In the city of Hamatsu, located about 200 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, they have therefore thought of something. In the middle of Bentenjima Seaside Park, in a bay separated from the Pacific Ocean only by a strait, so-called office cars can be rented in a parking lot. Half a dozen minivans are parked there. Everyone has the tailgate open. The back seat is folded down, a tabletop has been installed, and two young women are working on it. Because of the cold, the two have thick jackets on, but downstairs – very Japanese – they have taken off their shoes and put their feet on a cozy blanket for warmth. “It works well.”, they say, there can even be one more person sitting between them, it’s not that tight.

Rent a car, look for a parking space and off you go's

For this pilot project, which has been running as a test since November last year and is to be offered regularly from next year, the city has teamed up with car manufacturer Suzuki. First you rent a car, drive to the parking lot and then you have electricity and wi-fi. Hiroshi Miyagi planned the project.

The car office costs the equivalent of 12 euros for half a day, and double that for a full day.

Alternative: Working on the bullet train

In Japan, home office can also be done very quickly: In the Shinkansen high-speed train, telephoning was previously only permitted in the aisle. Annoying for many, and often really annoying, because the connection keeps breaking down.

Working in the Shinkansen

© picture alliance/ASSOCIATED PRESS/Kentaro Tominaga
Photo rights: picture alliance/ASSOCIATED PRESS/Kentaro Tominaga

A Japanese in the fast-moving office: on the Shinkansen bullet train

Until the end of February, the rail operator JREast is offering a home office train with “super Internet” free of charge to. Gen Nakamura works in the department that takes care of the working environment.

A Wifi router can be borrowed free of charge for this purpose. Even when the train is traveling through Japan at 300 kilometers per hour, the Internet connection will remain stable, the company promises.

Artificial sounds drown out work talk

And to ensure that the work can be done as quietly, undisturbed and anonymously as possible, the train operator JREast has borrowed something from Japanese toilet designers. There, you can work without disturbing anyone with your “business” disturbs, almost everywhere at the push of a button a noise play in.

And that’s exactly what you get on the Shinkansen high-speed train. The sound developed by Yamaha is designed so that no one can overhear what others are saying. For this purpose, various sounds and conversations were mixed with each other. The test offer is well received, but the question is whether this will still be the case when customers have to pay for it. How much that will be is not yet known.

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